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BCCLA calls for independent audit of police internal investigations

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In the wake of an investigative report into the 50 PIVOT police complaints, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is renewing its call for the Provincial government to set up an independent audit of the internal investigation process for police complaints.

According to BCCLA Executive Director Murray Mollard, “The BCCLA has been seeking a system wide audit for some time. We believe that the response of the Vancouver Police Department to the PIVOT complaints further highlights the need for an audit. The fact that a considerable number of complaints were first “substantiated” by the RCMP investigation and then “unsubstantiated” after the internal VPD investigation provokes serious question the process is working.”

The BCCLA has been calling for an independent audit of internal police investigations for over a year. The audit would seek to address, among other issues, the continuing controversy about whether the police should investigate themselves. An audit would provide invaluable empirical information about the current system, its strengths and weaknesses, which would form the basis for reform to current law and policy.

A successful audit must be:

1. Independent: The auditor must be perceived by all interested parties as being independent of any particular interest.

2. Credible: At the same time as being independent, the auditor must have the confidence of all parties that the audit process and result would be thorough and fair.

3. Comprehensive: The auditor must tackle all relevant issues and examine a representative sample of complaints from all municipal police forces operating under the Police Act as well as the work of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

4. Have Sufficient Legal Authority and Resources: The auditor must have legal authority to have unrestricted access to evidence and witnesses to facilitate a full review of internal investigations. The government must commit to publishing the report of the auditor. Finally, the auditor must be given sufficient resources to undertake a proper audit.

The BCCLA has already met with the Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police, the Police Complaint Commissioner and officials with the Ministry of the Solicitor General to discuss an audit.

Throughout its over forty year history, the BCCLA has worked for civilian oversight of police and police accountability through assistance to complainants and law reform.