Making a Complaint
Ways to Make a Complaint
There are three ways to make a complaint about police – conversation, local resolution and formal OIPRD complaint.
A complainant can go into a police station and simply have a conversation to clear up a question or complaint.
A Local Resolution allows the police to solve, explain, clear up or settle a matter considered to be “less serious” directly with the complainant. The complaint must be dealt with in person at a police station or detachment by an officer in authority designated by the police chief with 30 days of the incident.
Formal OIPRD Complaint
Police officers are expected to act with honesty and integrity and not abuse the extraordinary powers and authority they are granted. Police officers are also expected to treat people with respect and to act in a manner that does not discredit or undermine public confidence in the police service.
The Code of Conduct identifies 10 acts as potential matters for investigation and possible discipline:
- Discreditable conduct
- Neglect of duty
- Breach of confidence
- Corrupt practice
- Unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority
- Damage to (police) clothing or equipment
- Consumption of drugs or alcohol in a manner prejudicial to duty
- Conspiring, abetting or being an accessory to misconduct
Who Can I Complain About?
The OIPRD accepts complaints about sworn police officers of municipal and regional police services in Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
We cannot accept complaints about:
The OIPRD does not have jurisdiction over:
- Auxiliary police officers
- First Nations Police Officers
- Special constables (such as Toronto Transit Commission, Go Transit or campus police)
- Court officers
- Provincial offenses officers
- Military police
To make a complaint about the officers listed above, please contact the police service, transit system or university directly.
Who Can Make a Complaint?
Anyone who has had an interaction with police in Ontario can make a complaint. You do not have to be an Ontario resident to make a complaint.
You can make a complaint about a police officer if you:
- Have a concern or were offended by something a police officer(s) said or did to you and were directly affected by the incident
- Were a witness to an incident involving a police officer(s) that concerned or offended you
- Are concerned or distressed as a result of the way a relative or friend has been treated by a police officer(s) and are:
- A person in a personal relationship with the directly affected person and has suffered loss, damage, distress, danger or inconvenience
- A person who has knowledge of conduct, or has possession or control of anything, that the Director feels constitutes evidence that establishes misconduct or unsatisfactory work performance
- Are acting on behalf of an individual listed above; for example, a member of an organization who has been given written permission to make a complaint on another's behalf (this person is known as an agent)
- Have a complaint that a police service has not provided proper service
- Have a complaint about a policy of a police service
The OIPRD does not accept anonymous or unsigned complaints. Anonymous complaints do not provide a way for complainants or witnesses to be interviewed, for the respondent officer to answer the complaint, or for the complaint to be properly investigated.
Who Cannot Make a Complaint?
The following people cannot make a complaint with the OIPRD:
- A member or auxiliary (civilian) member of a police service cannot complaint about their own service
- An employee of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) cannot complain about the OPP
- A member or employee of a police services board cannot complain about their own service
- An employee of the OIPRD
- A member or employee of the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC)
- Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
What can I complain about?
OIPRD accepts complaints about the conduct of a police officer, or the policies or services of a police service.
- Conduct complaints: the behaviour of a police officer
- Policy complaints: the rules and standards of a police service that guide how an officer delivers police services
- Service complaints: relate to how effectively and efficiently a particular service performs its duties
When can I make a complaint?
It is best to file your complaint within six months of the incident. Complaints received after six months may be screened out.
The Director may choose to accept a complaint after the six month period if:
How to file a complaint