British Columbia’s ombudsperson is raising a red flag about detention cells policed by RCMP, saying there’s an oversight gap.
Jay Chalke says he’s received several complaints to his office and discovered that there is no body appointed to investigate allegations of misconduct arising from the city lockups where RCMP officers are in charge.
Chalke says in a statement that staff at the cells of provincial municipal forces are subject to discipline under the Police Act, but there’s no such oversight for jail guards under the jurisdiction of the Mounties because they aren’t RCMP officers.
Among the complaints to Chalke: a woman who identified herself as a victim of domestic assault who said a male guard attempted strip search and assault her, while another woman complained she was denied menstruation products when she was held.
Chalke says the allegations weren’t verified or investigated because there is no independent body able to look into the complaints.
The RCMP wasn’t immediately available to comment on Chalke’s allegations.
The ombudsperson has relayed his concerns to a legislative committee that is reviewing the police complaints process and says he already raised the problem with the Ministry of Public Safety.
“I am encouraged that since I identified this issue the ministry has begun to look at addressing my concerns and has taken some interim steps,” Chalke says in a statement.
“However, this issue will not be resolved until a full independent statutory process is developed for the oversight and investigation of these kinds of complaints.”
RCMP media relations officer Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said in a statement that there is a process in place for all public complaints against the RCMP.
Complaints are handled by an independent agency called the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, she said, adding the commission has multiple ways to file a complaint.