Facts and complaint
Further to a request for assistance from the RCMP, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service was tasked to investigate allegations of sexual assault. Following the investigation, it was recommended to the Crown Attorney that charges be laid pursuant to the Criminal Code. After the courts disposed of the resulting charges, the individual in question contacted the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards office and indicated that he wished to make a formal complaint against the investigating officers. There was also apparently some confusion regarding the advice given to the complainant as to how to proceed with his complaint. In the conduct complaint received by the Complaints Commission, the complainant alleged that the charges that were laid against him were a result of errors made during the initial investigation by the Military Police members who conducted the investigation and further alleged that his attempts to bring the matter forward were hindered by Military Police members. As is required by the National Defence Act, the Complaints Commission forwarded the conduct complaint to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal for consideration and action.
Decision of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal
The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards identified five allegations in the conduct complaint submitted to her office. The first three (3) allegations were that the subject members were incompetent, used incomplete investigative techniques and that the supervision of the investigation was inadequate, all of which led to the false arrest of the complainant. Upon further investigation, the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards found that these allegations were not supported and indicated that no further action would be taken.
The other two allegations, which were investigated by a different investigator separately from the first three, concerned the complainant's dissatisfaction with the subject members when he contacted them to indicate that he wished to file a conduct complaint. The complainant alleged that a Military Police member did not provide adequate assistance to him and that another Military Police member was unprofessional. The investigation supported the allegation that the complainant was not provided with adequate assistance; however, based on a lack of clear evidence, a determination could not be made concerning the professionalism of the subject member. No further action was contemplated regarding this allegation.
The complainant was not satisfied with the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards' disposition of his complaint regarding the first three allegations and requested that the Complaints Commission conduct a review.
Findings and Recommendations of the Complaints Commission
The Interim Chairperson of the Complaints Commission found that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service investigator conducted a competent and complete investigation into the sexual assault allegation and possessed the necessary training and experience to do so. The Interim Chairperson also found that the subject member possessed the necessary reasonable grounds to lay charges against the complainant, based on the information he learned from interviews with the complainant, other witnesses and his own investigation.
Additionally, proper and detailed notes were taken and standard police practices and Military Police directives were followed. As well, the Interim Chairperson found that the subject members properly consulted their superiors during the course of the investigation and the subject member supervising the investigation, who was actively involved in the investigation, properly discharged his responsibilities.
However, the Interim Chairperson found that the Professional Standards investigator should have interviewed the complainant and recommended that, in general and where possible, it is a best practice to commence an investigation by interviewing the complainant to ensure that the complaint and the allegations are clearly understood from the outset.
As the investigation into allegations four and five regarding the lack of assistance provided to the complainant and the unprofessional manner of a Military Police member was conducted separately, the results were not reported in the Professional Standards investigation report. They were, however, reported in the Letter of Final Disposition of the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards. The Interim Chairperson found that the investigator arrived at the appropriate conclusions but noted that an interview with the complainant at the beginning of the investigation could have cleared up any misunderstanding regarding the allegations. He also noted that it is important to record all information gathered during the course of an investigation primarily as a best practice, but also in the event of a request for review.
Reply of the Complaints Commission following the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal Notice of Action
The Interim Chairperson of the Complaints Commission was pleased to note that the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal agreed with all findings of this review and supported the recommendation made regarding the interviewing of complainants.
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