Frequently Asked Questions

1.   What is the proper relationship between the Police and the People?

2.   What circumstances lead most commonly to complaints against the police?

3.   What is the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Public Complaints Commission?

4.    Is the Commission an arm of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary or of the Dept. of  Justice?

5.   Who may register a complaint?

6.   When should a person complain?

7.   Is there a time limit on complaints?

8.   How does one make a complaint?

9.   What if there is uncertainty as to whether or not the complaint is warranted?

10.  How will a complaint be handled?

11.  What if there is dissatisfaction with the decision of the Chief of Police?

12.  Who will be the Adjudicator?

13.  What if there is dissatisfaction with the decision of the Commissioner or of an Adjudicator?

14.  Is there a charge for the services of the Public Complaints Commission?

 


1.  What is the proper relationship between the Police and the People?

In a free, democratic society the relationship between people and police ought to be inspired by a spirit of active cooperation.

The people must understand that the police have been granted special powers primarily to protect the public through:
* keeping the peace;
* preventing crime;
* assisting those who seek to prevent crime; and
* apprehending the perpetrators of crime.

The police must understand that the special powers they have been given must be used with proper restraint and not in any way that unnecessarily violates the rights and liberties of the people.   
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2.  What circumstances lead most commonly to complaints against the police?

The police, in execution of their duties, employ special powers, including force, that sometimes restrict the normal freedoms of citizens.

The exercise of such powers may lead to conflicts when a citizen believes that his/her freedoms have been unduly restricted or that the force employed has been unwarranted or excessive.
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3.  What is the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Public Complaints Commission?

It is an independent review authority established under Statute to hear and investigate complaints against members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and, when appropriate, to conduct public hearings in respect of particular complaints.
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4.  Is the Commission an arm of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary or of the Department of Justice?

It is neither an agent of the one nor of the other; it is independent of both the police and of government, reporting only to the representatives of the people as constituted in the House of Assembly.
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5.  Who may register a complaint?

Any member of the public who has reason to be concerned with the conduct of a police officer.

A police officer or a person employed in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary may file a complaint where the matter giving rise to the complaint occurs outside the scope of the police officer's or the person's employment.

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6.  When should a person complain?

It is important that the complaint be registered as soon as possible after the incident. Timeliness will improve the chances of assembling reliable testimony and will, of course, assist in a speedier resolution of the matter.

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7.  Is there a time limit on complaints?

Yes. If a complaint is to be acted upon it must be registered within six (6) months of the date of the alleged misconduct.
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8.  How does one make a complaint?

A complaint may be lodged with the office of the Commissioner, or any Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Detachment office.

The complaint must be made in writing. Special forms will be available at the office of the Commissioner or any Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Detachment office and will be provided directly to those seeking them.

Forms will be sent by mail to would be complainants who request them by letter or telephone.
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9.  What if there is uncertainty as to whether or not the complaint is warranted?

A telephone call or a visit to the office of the Commissioner will permit discussion of the matter.
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10.  How will a complaint be handled?

The complaint, whether lodged at the office of the Commissioner or any Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Detachment office, will be recorded by the Commissioner and, in the first instance, referred to the Chief of Police for investigation and appropriate action.

The Chief of Police may:
 - settle the matter by agreement of all parties;
 - dismiss the complaint; or
 - discipline the police officer who is the subject of the complaint.

The Chief of Police can, where it is in the public interest, transmit a complaint directly to the Commissioner without initial investigation. The Commission will undertake the investigation of the compliant.

The Chief of Police will inform the complainant and the police officer who is the subject of the complaint in writing of the action he has taken. The Public Complaints Commissioner will also be advised.

If the complaint is against the Chief of Police, the matter will be immediately referred to the Public Complaints Commissioner.
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11. What if there is dissatisfaction with the decision of the Chief of Police?

Either the police officer or the complainant may lodge with the Commissioner an appeal against the decision of the Chief of Police.

The Commissioner will undertake a full investigation of the matter.

The Commissioner may:
 - settle the matter by agreement of all parties;
 - dismiss the appeal; or
 - refer the matter to an adjudicator who shall conduct a public hearing into the matter.

Following an investigation, the Commissioner may decline to act further on that complaint if the complaint is deemed to be frivolous or vexatious, abandoned or withdrawn, or complaints where there is insufficient evidence for a hearing

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12.  Who will be the Adjudicator?

The Adjudicator will be chosen from among lawyers who have been appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.
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13.  What if there is dissatisfaction with the decision of the Commissioner or of an Adjudicator?

In most circumstances leave may be sought of a judge of the Trial Division of Newfoundland and Labrador to lodge an appeal. If leave is granted an appeal may be made.
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14.  Is there a charge for the services of the Public Complaints Commission?

In most cases the services of the Commissioner are provided free of charge. However, in the event that a public hearing is required and the Adjudicator decides the complainant's allegations were unfounded, the Adjudicator may order the complainant to pay the reasonable costs incurred by the Commission in conducting an investigation, a hearing, or both.
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