Ombudsperson urges province to ‘fill the gaps’ in complaint processes with jail guards, police reviews

BC Ombudsperson Jay Chalke     Photo courtesy BC Government
BC Ombudsperson Jay Chalke Photo courtesy BC Government
Lisa Cordasco - CHLY - NanaimoBC | 23-02-2021

BC's Ombudsperson is calling for independent oversight of detention centres in communities policed by the RCMP. Jay Chalke says there is no recourse to make a complaint by people who feel mistreated by guards at RCMP lockups.

Chalke appeared before a legislative committee that is reviewing BC's Police Act yesterday. He recounted two examples from women who said they suffered abuse at the hands of municipal jail guards. One said she was menstruating when she was detained and was denied hygiene products and access to a shower. Another woman, a victim of domestic assault, said she was subjected to an attempted strip search and assault by a male guard.

Chalke says neither complaint can be investigated because those guards are civilian employees, who are not covered by the RCMP complaints process. Chalke urged the legislative committee to fill that gap:

 

Chalke is also calling on lawmakers to create a complaints process for people detained under BC's Mental Health Act and those unhappy with BC's Independent Investigations Office, which reviews police involved injuries and deaths.

 

Chalke says BC's Solicitor General has acknowledged the gaps but so far, has not offered any legislative or regulatory changes. Currently, an all-party committee of the legislature is reviewing BC's 50 year old Police Act.

It is expected to complete its report and recommendations to the legislative assembly by mid-May.