All police services must ensure that OIPRD complaint forms, brochures and posters are displayed and accessible to the general public. Complainants can file a complaint at any police station in Ontario.
The officer receiving the complaint must process it in confidence and must not release information that would cause the respondent or witness officers to receive notification of the complaint. Police services must forward completed complaint forms received at the station to the OIPRD electronically or by fax within three business days, and send the original by mail or courier.
Police officers who are identified as respondent officers as a result of a public complaint are notified by the police chief unless the Director or police chief believes to do so would jeopardize the integrity of the investigation. In that case the respondent officer is notified when the Director or police chief deems it appropriate.
Respondent officers are provided with the substance of the complaint made against them. In the most cases this is a copy of the complaint including the name of the complainant, but without personal information (such as home address) of the complainant or witness. Officers are required to respond to the complaint in full in the manner determined by the investigation. Officers have the opportunity to consult with an agent or representative prior to responding to the complaint provided it does not unduly delay the investigation. Where an interview has been scheduled, officers are entitled to have a representative present during the interview.
Less serious complaints may be resolved directly with a police service through Local Resolution with the consent of the complainant, chief of police or designated officer.
Every municipal and regional police service in Ontario has a civilian police services board to provide general management, set policies and oversee the police service. Ontario Provincial Police detachments may also have a local police services board.
Under the Police Services Act, boards may establish guidelines for dealing with complaints against police, and may review the chief’s administration of the complaints system. Any guidelines established by the board must be in agreement with those established by the OIPRD. Where a municipality has contracted the Ontario Provincial Police for policing, the police board’s responsibilities regarding public complaints are limited to reviewing the detachment commander’s administration of the public complaints system, and receiving regular reports from the detachment commander on the administration of the system.
The OIPRD has the mandate to conduct performance audits. There are two types.
For the first type of audit, the OIPRD may require a police services board to have a performance audit conducted at the board’s expense to audit the board’s administration of how their police service is dealing with public complaints. Such audits are conducted by an independent auditor under the direction of the OIPRD. The board must submit the results of the audit to the OIPRD.
The second type of audit is not solely directed to the board. The OIPRD may conduct an audit of any aspect of the administration of public complaints by boards or services under the Police Services Act. The OIPRD will make the results of these types of audits available to the public.
To make a complaint about a police services board, contact the Ontario Civilian Police Commission or submit your complaint by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.