Public – FAQ

Who can make a complaint against the police?

Any member of the public can make a complaint against the police. If you were directly involved with the conduct of the member or you directly witnessed the conduct you will be considered a Complainant in the matter. If you did not witness the conduct or were not directly involved, you can still file a complaint. You will be considered a third-party Complainant.

How do I file a complaint about a municipal police officer?

There are a number of ways to file a complaint. You can attend, call or email the police department. You can also file a complaint online, mail in a complaint form using a printed complaint form (PDF) to the OPCC, call the OPCC at (250) 356-7458/1-877-999-8707, or visit our office in person. You do not have to use the complaint form, but the complaint form assists you and our office in processing your complaint to ensure we have all the relevant information.

Can I file a complaint about an RCMP officer with the OPCC?

No. The OPCC does not have jurisdiction over RCMP officers. Click here for more information about filing a complaint about an RCMP officer.

What is a Service or Policy complaint?

This type of complaint is about the general direction and management, or the operations of a municipal police department. This can include complaints about the inadequacy or inappropriateness of the municipal departments staffing or resource allocation; training programs or resources; standing orders or policies; ability to respond to requests for assistance; or the department’s internal procedures.

If I file a complaint will my information be shared with the police?

The OPCC is required to share information about your complaint with the Chief Constable of the police department and the investigator of your complaint. Sometimes this will be another police department. The respondent police officer will also receive limited information about your complaint. The OPCC must follow the confidentiality requirements as set out in the BC Police Act.

If I file a complaint with the police department, how will it get to the OPCC?

Police departments are required under the BC Police Act to forward a copy of the complaint to the OPCC for processing. We have set up a secure electronic file transfer system which allows the police department to securely send your complaint to the OPCC.

Is there a time limit to file my complaint?

A complaint must be made within the 12-month period beginning on the date of the conduct giving rise to the complaint. The Police Complaint Commissioner may extend the time limit for making the complaint if the Commissioner considers that there are good reasons for doing so and it is not contrary to the public interest.

What if I need help filing a complaint?

Police officers or a designated individual at the police department are required under the Police Act to assist the public if they wish to file a complaint. In addition, our intake staff at the OPCC can also assist in filing a complaint. You can either call the OPCC at (250) 356-7458/1-877-999-8707 or attend the office of the OPCC at 947 Fort Street, Victoria, BC. You can also have the assistance of a support agency to provide support through the complaint process. Our Intake Services and Public Outreach Coordinator will be able to provide you with more information.

What is an allegation of misconduct?

Section 77 of the Police Act defines what misconduct means and provides a list of the allegations of misconduct. There are 13 specific allegations of misconduct under the Police Act: Abuse of Authority; Accessory to Misconduct; Corrupt Practice; Damage to Police Property; Damage to Property of Others; Deceit; Discourtesy; Discreditable Conduct; Improper Disclosure of Information; Improper Off-Duty Conduct; Improper Use or Care of a Firearm; Misuse of Intoxicants; Neglect of Duty.

Click here to read about each allegation under section 77.

Who will conduct the investigation into my complaint?

An investigator with the police department’s Professional Standards Section will be assigned to conduct the investigation into your complaint. The OPCC will provide independent civilian oversight of the investigation every step of the way.

What can I expect to receive after I file a complaint against a police officer?

You will receive a letter from the OPCC advising that your complaint has been reviewed and a determination made about whether it will be forwarded for investigation. Not all complaints submitted will be investigated. In order for a complaint to move forward for investigation, the complaint must:
⦁ Contain an allegation of conduct that, if substantiated, would constitute misconduct as defined by the Act.
⦁ Be filed within one year of when the incident occurred; and
⦁ Not be frivolous or vexatious.

What is Complaint Resolution?

Complaint Resolution is a method for parties to resolve a complaint. Complaint Resolutions involve the assistance of a facilitator; usually a trained senior member of the police department. Complaint Resolution is suitable for less serious allegations of misconduct. The main goal of Complaint Resolution is to provide complainants and police officers an opportunity to engage in a process where they can share their perspectives and find common ground with the aim of coming to a resolution agreement between both parties. Click here for more information about Complaint Resolution.

What are the benefits of Complaint Resolution?

Ability to play a more active role in resolving your complaint and having direct input into the outcome;
Ability to be heard and to share your perspectives, concerns and the impact the incident had on you;
Allows for the opportunity to get answers to questions you may have about the incident;
Quicker resolution of your complaint;
Completely confidential.

Can I have someone to assist me during the complaint process?

The OPCC has connections with a wide range of agencies in the community. We can connect you with a support agency that can provide you with assistance through the complaint process. Our Intake Services and Public Outreach Coordinator will be able to assist you with this.

What happens if it is determined that the police officer did not commit misconduct?

If you are a complainant, you will have a right to file a request with our office to appoint a retired judge to review the matter if you disagree with the finding of no misconduct. This request must be in writing and must be made within 10 days of receiving the Final Investigation Report and the Discipline Authority’s decision. The OPCC reviews all decisions regardless of whether we receive a request from a complainant to determine whether the matter should be forwarded to a retired judge for review.

Does a complaint have to be filed in order for a specific incident about police conduct to be looked into?

If at any time information comes to the attention of the OPCC concerning conduct of a municipal police officer and if that conduct would, if substantiated, constitute misconduct the OPCC can order an investigation into the conduct of the member.

What happens if the municipal police officer I am complaining about retires? Will my complaint still move forward?

The Police Act applies to both members and former members. There will be no difference to the process. The only exception is that once the police officer retires, he/she is no longer compellable to cooperate with the investigation.

Can the OPCC recommend criminal charges?

If the Police Complaint Commissioner considers that a municipal police officer has committed an offence, the matter may be reported to Crown Counsel for their determination.