Legislation, Rules and Regulations
The Ontario legislature passed The Independent Police Review Act, 2007, to create the Office of the Independent Police Review Director. The act amended the Police Services Act (PSA) and established new guidelines for public complaints. The amendments came into effect on October 19, 2009.
Police Services Act, 1990
The act sets out the OIPRD’s mandate as well as its authority and obligations to operate the public complaints system for Ontario.
Part II.1: Independent Police Review Director
This section of the act establishes the Independent Police Review Director, the Director’s office, its functions and investigative powers.
- Establishes that there shall be an Independent Police Review Director, appointed by Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney General
- A police officer or former police officer cannot be appointed as the Independent Police Review Director
- Employees of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director cannot be sworn police officers
- The Independent Police Review Director and OIPRD employees cannot give testimony in a civil proceeding, and documents created by the OIPRD are not admissible in civil proceedings
- OIPRD investigators may conduct interviews, collect evidence or obtain a warrant to collect evidence if required, pursuant to the Public Inquiries Act.
Part V: Complaints and Disciplinary Hearings
This section of the Police Services Act establishes the OIPRD’s authority to receive, manage and oversee public complaints about the police in Ontario.
- Any member of the public may make a complaint about the conduct of a police officer, the policies of a police service or about the services provided by a police service
- Third parties or witnesses to an incident may make a complaint
- Some people cannot make a complaint to the OIPRD; they include:
- OIPRD employees
- The Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services (Solicitor General)
- Members of the board and employees of the Ontario Civilian Police Commission
- Police officers and auxiliary police officers about a member of their own service
- A member of a police services board about a member of the service they oversee
- Complaints may be made about all municipal, regional and provincial sworn police officers
- The OIPRD shall review every complaint and determine whether the complaint is about the policies or services of a police serve, or the about the conduct of a police officer
- The Director may decide not to deal with a complaint if the complaint is received more than six months after the date of the incident. In making this determination, the Director must consider if the complainant is a youth, has a disability as defined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with a Disability Act (AODA), if criminal proceedings related to the complaint are underway and if it is in the public interest to deal with the complaint.
- The Director may decide not to deal with a complaint if the complainant was not directly affected by, or a witness to the incident, or if the complaint is frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith, could be better dealt with by another act or law, or if it is not in the public interest to proceed.
- Complaints about the policies or services of a police service shall be referred to the chief of police to be dealt with. Complaints about OPP policies and services shall be referred to the Commissioner to be dealt with.
- Following a review of a policy or service complaint the police chief or Commissioner shall take any action or no action as appropriate.
- Complaints about the conduct of a police officer may be retained by the OIPRD for an investigation, or referred to a police service for investigation.
- Complaints about the conduct of a municipal chief or deputy chief shall be referred to the police services board.
- Complaints about the conduct of the OPP Commissioner or deputy Commissioner shall be referred to the Solicitor General (Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services).
- Informal Resolution may take place before, during or after an investigation for matters that are not of a serious nature.
- Following an investigation, conduct complaints may be unsubstantiated, substantiated less serious or substantiated serious.
- For conduct complaints that are substantiated serious, the Director shall direct the police chief to hold a disciplinary hearing.
- The Independent Police Review Director may examine and review issues of a systemic nature that are the subject of, or that give rise to, a complaint made by members of the public.
Regulations are rules that are governed by law and backed by the use of penalties. Regulations are made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and must be followed.
The following regulations, made under the authority of the Police Services Act, further develop and clarify the legal responsibilities and powers of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director:
Regulation 263/09: Public Complaints – Local Complaints
A member of the public may make a complaint about the conduct of a police officer, the policies of a police service or about the services provided by a police service at a police station and have the complaint dealt with by an officer designated by the police chief. This is called a local complaint and is not part of the formal complaint process under Part V of the PSA. This process may be used for less serious complaints that can be dealt with easily at the local level.
Local Resolution allows the police to discuss, solve, explain or settle a matter directly with the complainant, or to facilitate a discussion or other communication between the complainant and the involved police officer. Police must inform the complainant about the formal OIPRD process and the complainant and the involved officer are required to agree to the final resolution and sign a form indicating that the complaint was resolved. The complaint must be resolved within 30 days of filing the complaint. If the complaint is too complex to be resolved in 30 days, or if the police service determines that the matter isn’t appropriate for a local resolution, the police must forward the complaint to the OIPRD.
If the complainant and the involved police officer cannot come to a resolution, the complainant may file a formal complaint with the OIPRD, otherwise the matter is deemed to be a local inquiry and no further steps are taken. Police chiefs are required to provide the OIPRD with signed copies of Local Resolution forms within seven days of completion and to report the number of local inquiries on a quarterly basis.
Regulation 268/10: General. Part VII: Code of Conduct
This section of the regulation lays out the Code of Conduct that all sworn police officers in Ontario are required to follow.
Any officer or chief of police commits misconduct if he or she engages in:
- Discreditable conduct
- Neglect of duty
- Breach of confidence
- Corrupt practice
- Unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority
- Damage to (police) clothing or equipment
- Consuming drugs or alcohol in a manner prejudicial to duty
- Conspiring, abetting or being an accessory to misconduct
Regulation 58/16: Collection of Identifying Information in Certain Circumstances — Prohibition and Duties
This regulation describes the limitations and duties of police officers when collecting identifying information (also known as “carding” or “street checks”).
The regulation applies if a police officer asks a person for identifying information or to see an identifying document while:
- Looking into suspicious activities
- Gathering intelligence
- Investigating possible criminal activity
During these interactions officers must inform the person of their right to not provide identifying information and provide a reason for requesting identifying information. The reason cannot be:
- That the person declined to answer a question or attempted to end the interaction
- Based on race or solely because that individual is in a high-crime location
Officers must keep detailed records of each interaction and offer the person a document that includes the officer’s name and badge number and information on how to contact the OIPRD if they have concerns about the interaction.
The regulation does not apply if a police officer asks for identifying information or to see an identifying document while:
- Conducting a traffic stop
- Arresting or detaining someone
- Executing a warrant
- Investigating a specific crime
If an officer collects information contrary to this regulation, his or her actions could be considered a breach of the Code of Conduct (unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority).
Police service boards and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (for the OPP) must ensure policies are in place in relation to this regulation, including access to data, data retention and disclosure of collected information. Police chiefs and the Commissioner must ensure that procedures consistent with the regulation are in place and, among other things, provide annual reports to the board (or MCSCS for the OPP) that include information in relation to attempted collections of identifying information.
For more information about street checks, please visit ontario.ca/street-checks.
Rules of Procedure
In addition to the Police Services Act and Regulations, the OIPRD has created a set of Rules of Procedure to help in the fair and effective day-to-day running of the public complaint system.
Rules of Procedure