Filing a complaint
Q. How do I file a complaint?
A. To file a complaint online, complete the OIPRD's online complaint form. You can also download an OIPRD complaint form and submit it by fax, by emailing a scanned copy, by mail or in person at our office. You may also file a complaint at any municipal, regional or provincial police service in Ontario. OIPRD complaint forms are available on our website, at all municipal, regional and provincial police services, at Service Ontario locations throughout Ontario and in many community centres and legal clinics.
Q. If I file my complaint at a police service, how will it get to the OIPRD?
A. Police stations must accept complaints at the time they are submitted and should not request that a complainant come back at another time. The police service accepting the complaint must record when the complaint was received on the prescribed OIPRD form and forward it to the OIPRD within three business days. Complaints will only be considered filed on the date that they are received by the OIPRD.
Q. Can I have someone represent me during the complaint process?
A. You can represent yourself or be assisted by another person of your choice at any stage of the process. If you would like an agent to represent you, it is your responsibility to find one. You are required to indicate on the complaint form that you wish to be represented by an agent and provide the name of the agent. If you would like an agent to act on your behalf after your complaint has been submitted, you must advise the OIPRD and provide the agent's contact information. The OIPRD will copy both the complainant and the agent on all correspondence relating to the complaint.
Q. What if I need help completing the complaint form?
A. Many community centres and legal clinics are willing to help members of the public fill out forms such as the OIPRD complaint form.
Q. What if English is not my first language, and I have difficulty filling in the OIPRD complaint form?
A. The OIPRD provides services in French and English. If you require the assistance of a translator to complete a complaint form or need assistance to understand correspondence with the OIPRD, you must arrange for a translator. Visit our Useful Links page.
Q. Is there a time limit to file a complaint?
section 60(2) and (3) of the PSA, the Director may decide not to deal with a
complaint if it is made more than six months after the incident
occurred. This section is not a limitation period. In determining whether
to deal with a complaint older than six months, the Director must consider the
- Whether the complainant is a minor or is under a disability within the meaning of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
the complainant is or was subject to criminal proceedings in respect of the
events underlying the complaint
having regard to all the circumstances, it is in the public interest for the complaint
to be dealt with
a complaint is made more than six months after the incident complained of,
the OIPRD may ask about the reasons for the delay, including when the facts of
the incident first became known. All circumstances, including the reason for
delay and the severity of the alleged misconduct, are considered.
Q. I was involved in an incident with police prior to the official opening of the OIPRD. Can I file my complaint with the OIPRD?
A. No. The OIPRD is unable to accept complaints about incidents that occurred prior to the opening of our office. If you do not wish to file your complaint with the police, you may submit it to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) and it will be forwarded to the appropriate police service.
Q. Can I make a complaint about a TTC special constable?
A. No. The OIPRD does not have the authority to investigate TTC special constables. To make a complaint against a TTC special constable, contact the Toronto Police or the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).
Q. Can I file a complaint about an OPP Commissioner or OPP deputy commissioners?
A. Complaints about the OPP Commissioner and deputy commissioners will be investigated by the Solicitor General (Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services). The OIPRD will forward your complaint to the Solicitor General for consideration.
Q. Can I file a complaint about a First Nations police service?
A. No. First Nations Police Officers do not fall under the jurisdiction of the OIPRD. If you have a complaint about a First Nations Police Officer, you must direct it to the police service in question.
Q. Can I file a complaint about my university/college police?
A. No, the OIPRD cannot accept complaints about university or college police. Campus police are considered special constables and are not defined as 'police officers' under the Police Services Act.
Q. Can I file an anonymous complaint?
A. No, anonymous complaints will not be accepted. Complainants must identify themselves when submitting a complaint to the OIPRD so that we may conduct a fair and transparent investigation.
Q. Can I file a complaint about an off-duty police officer?
A. Complaints about off-duty police officers are not automatically the jurisdiction of the OIPRD. You may direct your complaint to the OIPRD, however, the OIPRD may redirect your complaint to the chief of the police service in question.
Q. I was assaulted by my spouse who is a police officer. Can I file a complaint with the OIPRD?
A. You may file a complaint with the OIPRD, we will determine the most appropriate course of action to address your complaint. You may also report your complaint to the SIU for investigation. The SIU can investigate police officers involved in incidents of alleged sexual assault or those which result in serious injury.
Q. My complaint was deemed unsubstantiated after it was forwarded to the chief of police for investigation. What does this mean?
A. The Police Services Act states that a chief must have reasonable grounds to believe that misconduct occurred. Reasonable grounds are the standards by which all complaints are weighed. If reasonable grounds do not exist, the complaint will be deemed to be unsubstantiated.
Complaints will only be found to be unsubstantiated following a complete and thorough investigation.
If you disagree with an investigation by the police, you may request a review by the OIPRD.
Q: What is reasonable grounds?
A: Reasonable grounds can be defined as the facts or circumstances of a case that would lead an ordinary and cautious person to believe that misconduct has occurred. This belief must be more than just suspicion of misconduct and must be based on factual evidence.
Q. What is a frivolous complaint?
A. A complaint that is frivolous may be a complaint that is trivial or lacks an air of reality. Frivolous complaints may assign blame where there is none. A complaint may be frivolous when it does not disclose a breach of the Police Services Act or the Code of Conduct.
Q: What is a vexatious complaint?
A: A vexatious complaint may be one that is made out of anger or the desire to seek retribution. Vexatious complaints may lack a reasonable purpose or may be made with the intention to harass or annoy. Vexatious complaints may be repetitive (filing the same complaint numerous times after a previous complaint was screened out, or filing repeated complaints about the same person).
Q. What is a 'bad faith' complaint?
A. The Director may determine that a complaint was made in bad faith if there is clear evidence that the complaint was made for an improper purpose or with a hidden motive. A bad faith complaint may be made with the intention of deceiving the OIPRD or police services.
Q. Can the OIPRD recommend criminal charges?
A. No, the OIPRD cannot recommend criminal charges, but can recommend provincial offences
charges under section 79 of the Police Services Act.