Professional Standards Section
The Professional Standards Section (PSS) investigates allegations of misconduct and facilitates the sharing of information with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. Members of PSS also work to resolve Questions and Concerns, and conduct Complaint Resolutions between members of the public and VicPD members.
Inspector Colin Brown oversees a team of members and civilian support staff. The Professional Standards Section falls under the Deputy Chief Constable in charge of the Executive Services Division.
The mandate of the Professional Standards Section is to preserve the integrity of the Victoria Police Department and the Chief Constable’s Office by ensuring that the conduct of VicPD members is beyond reproach.
PSS members respond to public complaints and other concerns about the actions of individual VicPD members. The role of PSS investigators is to investigate and resolve complaints fairly and inclusively, in compliance with the Police Act. All Questions and Concerns, Registered Complaints, and Service and Policy Complaints are overseen by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, an independent civilian oversight body.
Resolving a complaint may be achieved through one or more of the following ways:
- Complaint Resolution -for example, a written mutual agreement between the complainant and the member each stating their concerns about an incident. Often, a the written mutual agreement follows a face-to-face resolution meeting between the parties
- Mediation – conducted by an approved Police Act Complaint Mediator chosen by the Discipline Authority from a list maintained by the OPCC
- Formal investigation, followed by a review and determination of the alleged misconduct by a discipline authority. Where the Discipline Authority determines misconduct has been substantiated, discipline and or corrective measures may be imposed on the member(s)
- Withdrawal – Complainant withdraws their Registered Complaint
- The Police Complaint Commissioner determines the complaint is inadmissible, and directs no further action to be taken
Further explanation between “formal investigation” and “complaint resolution” can be found below and in more detail on our FAQs page.
Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC)
The OPCC’s website states its role as follows:
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) is a civilian, independent office of the Legislature which oversees and monitors complaints and investigations involving municipal police in British Columbia and is responsible for the administration of discipline and proceedings under the Police Act.
The Victoria Police Department fully supports the OPCC’s role and oversight. The Police Complaint Commissioner himself has broad and independent authority regarding all aspects of the complaint process, including (but not limited to):
- deciding what is admissible and whether to continue with a complaint
- ordering of investigations whether a complaint is made or not
- directing certain investigative steps, where necessary
- replacing a discipline authority
- appointing a retired judge to conduct a review on the record or public hearing
Investigations relating to a VicPD member’s conduct take place if a complaint is deemed “admissible” by the OPCC, or if a police department or the OPCC are made aware of an incident and the Police Complaint Commissioner orders an investigation.
Generally, Professional Standards members are assigned investigations by the PSS Inspector. In some circumstances, a VicPD PSS investigator will be assigned an investigation involving a member of another police department.
An OPCC analyst will monitor and liaise with the PSS investigator through the investigation until it is completed.
Mediation and Informal Resolution
If it’s possible to resolve a complaint by mediation or complaint resolution, members of PSS will explore this option with both the complainant and the member(s) identified in the complaint.
For less serious and straight-forward matters, the complainant and subject member(s) may be able come up with their own resolution. If, on the other hand, a matter is more serious or complex, it may require the services of a professional and neutral mediator. The outcomes of either process must be agreed to by both the complainant and the member(s) named in the complaint.
If an informal resolution occurs, it must receive the approval of the OPCC. If a matter is resolved through the efforts of a professional mediator, it is not subject to OPCC approval.
When a complaint is not resolved through mediation or other informal means, the investigation will usually result in a final investigation report by the assigned investigator.
- The report, along with accompanying evidence, is reviewed by a senior VicPD officer who determines whether the matter will go to a formal discipline process.
- If they decide against this, the Police Complaint Commissioner may decide to appoint a retired judge to review the report and the evidence, to make their own decision on the matter.
- If the retired judge agrees with the senior VicPD officer, the process is concluded. If they do not agree, the judge takes over the matter and becomes the discipline authority.
The discipline process will resolve in one of these ways:
- If a misconduct allegation is less serious, a pre-hearing conference may be held to determine whether the officer will admit the misconduct and agree to the proposed consequence(s). This must be approved by the Police Complaint Commissioner.
- If the allegation is more serious, or the pre-hearing conference is not successful, a formal discipline proceeding will take place to determine if the allegation is proven or not proven. This will include testimony from the investigating officer, and possibly the subject officer and other witnesses. If proven, the discipline authority will propose disciplinary or corrective measures for the officer.
- Regardless of the outcome of a discipline proceeding, the Police Complaint Commissioner may appoint a retired judge to conduct either a public hearing or a review on the record. The judge’s decision, and any imposed disciplinary or corrective measures, are generally final.
Transparency and Complainant Participation
The VicPD Professional Standards Section makes every reasonable attempt to facilitate complaints involving the conduct of VicPD members.
Our staff are specifically trained to provide information regarding all aspects of the complaint process and to assist with the completion of complaint forms.
We encourage all complainants to be involved in the investigations, as this helps people understand the process, its expectations and outcomes. It also assists our investigators with the cooperation necessary to ensure a thorough investigation.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO)
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of British Columbia is a civilian-led police oversight agency responsible for conducting investigations into incidents of death or serious harm that may have been the result of the actions of a police officer, whether on or off duty.