The Police Services Act gives the Independent Police Review Director the power to conduct systemic reviews. A systemic review goes beyond the immediate issues raised by a given complaint and looks at the underlying causes to determine whether an organization’s practices comply with its underlying legal and policy framework and, more importantly, whether that framework can be improved to prevent such issues from arising in the future.
A systemic review is generally not about individuals. Its purpose is not to assign individual fault, but to determine whether systemic failings have occurred, to make recommendations to address those failings and to help restore and enhance public confidence in police and policing.
The OIPRD may conduct investigations into systemic issues arising from public complaints and will work to identify and offer solutions to systemic or ongoing issues within a police service.
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) is conducting a systemic review of the Thunder Bay Police Service’s practices for policing Indigenous Peoples, and specifically, their policies, practices and attitudes regarding missing person and death investigations involving Indigenous Peoples.
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) is conducting a systemic review of Ontario police services’ policies and practices for conducting strip searches of people arrested or otherwise detained.
OIPRD Report on OPP Practices for DNA Canvasses
On July 12, 2016, the Independent Police Review Director released the systemic review report Casting The Net: A Review of Ontario Provincial Police Practices for DNA Canvasses. The Director called on the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and other police services in Ontario to adopt a policy to govern how DNA canvasses are conducted.
The Director was satisfied that the OPP investigation was not motivated by racial prejudice, but the nature and scope of the DNA canvass was overly broad and certainly had an impact on the migrant workers’ sense of vulnerability, lack of security and fairness.
The Director also found that the Elgin County OPP investigation:
- Failed to recognize the vulnerabilities of the targeted migrant worker community and how those vulnerabilities were relevant to whether the consents obtained were truly informed and voluntary
- Failed to adequately take measures to ensure that decisions by workers not to provide DNA samples remained confidential, particularly from their employer
- Failed to take steps to explain the destruction process to individuals asked to provide DNA samples
The report provided seven recommendations to promote effective, bias-free policing and enhance police-community relations, particularly with those who are vulnerable.
OIPRD Revises Terms of Reference for Use of Force Review
On April 20, 2015, the OIPRD announced an expansion of the Terms of Reference for its systemic review of use of force, lethal use of force, de-escalation techniques and approaches in dealing with people with mental health issues, emotionally disturbed people and people in distress. The Director stated that the Terms of Reference were revised and expanded to extend to police services throughout Ontario, and to ensure that his recommendations have relevance more broadly to policing across the province.
OIPRD to Review Toronto Police Service's Use of Force
On February 24, 2014, the OIPRD announced a systemic review of the Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) use of force, de-escalation techniques and approach when dealing with people with mental health issues, emotionally disturbed people and people in crisis.
The review will examine public complaints filed and evidence collected from complaint investigations, recent high-profile use of force incidents involving the TPS, past reviews and reports involving similar incidents, best practices from other jurisdictions and relevant research and data. The review will also consider submissions from stakeholders and the public.
G20 Systemic Review Report
On May 16, 2012, the Independent Police Review Director released the G20 systemic review report, "Policing the Right to Protest." The report provided an in-depth analysis of issues surrounding public complaints against police during the G20 summit in Toronto in June 2010.
The 300-page report examined the planning and execution of the security operation at the G20, incidents where large-scale protests and interactions or clashes with police occurred, issues regarding stops and searches and the planning and operation of the Prisoner Processing Centre.
The Director found that while the vast majority of police officers carried out their duties in a professional manner, some police officers ordered or made arrests without reasonable grounds, used excessive force, overstepped their authority when they stopped and searched people without legal justification, and failed to take adequate steps to address problems at the Prisoner Processing Centre.
The report provided 42 recommendations to improve the interaction between the public and the police during future protests and to strengthen confidence and trust in police and policing.