Victim Complaints - Report 2015-2017

Background

On July 23, 2015, the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR) came into effect[1].  This legislation introduced four basic rights for victims of crime in Canada: the right to information, protection, participation and restitution. (See Annex A for the complete text of these rights.)

In addition, section 25(3) of the CVBR required the Correctional Service of Canada

  1. (3) Every federal department, agency or body that is involved in the criminal justice system must have a complaints mechanism that provides for
    1. a review of complaints involving alleged infringements or denials of rights under this Act;
    2. the power to make recommendations to remedy such infringements and denials; and
    3. the obligation to notify victims of the result of those reviews and of the recommendations, if any were made.

To comply with this legislated requirement, CSC promulgated Commissioner’s Directive (CD) 786, Victim Complaints, to coincide with the coming into force of the CVBR. In addition, in March 2016 the Assistant Commissioner Communications and Engagement approved Guidelines 786-1 related to the victim complaint process. Victim Services at National Headquarters will create a protocol to guide its staff in implementing the CD and Guidelines and in the use of the various tools (templates for internal communication and correspondence with victims, tracking and reporting grids, etc.) created for the purpose of managing complaints from victims.

CD 786 specifies that to be considered as a formal complaint the victim’s concerns must be communicated to CSC in writing. To do this victims may use the Victim Complaint Form (CSC 1524) or send a letter or other type of written correspondence specifying that the victim wishes to file a complaint pursuant to subsection 25(1) of the CVBR. While responsibility for responding to formal complaints rests primarily with National Headquarters, CD 786 directs Regional Deputy Commissioners to provide input into the response (summary of what occurred, information resulting from regional inquiry into the matter, and any corrective measures taken and possible recommendations for response to the complaint) when the complaints relate to matters under their responsibility. 

This report provides an overview of the complaints received/addressed in 2015-2017 as of March 31, 2017.

Statistics

In the weeks following the coming into force of the CVBR, CSC received a number of inquiries and complaints that it resolved informally at both regional and national levels. However, it did not receive any formal written complaints until January 2016, or Q4 of fiscal year 2015-2016. Because the CVBR came into effect in Q2 of fiscal year 2015-2016, the data covers a little less than three quarters (Q2-Q4).

Quarter/
Year
2015/16
Total Complaints
Received
Inadmissible Admissible Admissible in Part Findings for Admissible Complaints (5) Completed within CD 786 Timeframe
(as of March 31st)
Q4
7 2 4 1 1 founded
1 (undetermined as of March 31st)
1 (two days overdue)
1 (with office of primary interest for input as of March 31st)
          3 unfounded
0 founded in part
0 withdrawn
2 on time
1 in approval process (as of March 31, 2016)


Quarter/
Year
2016/17
Total Complaints
Received
Inadmissible Admissible Admissible in Part Findings for Admissible Complaints Completed within CD 786 Timeframe
(as of March 31st)
Q1 2 1 1 0 1 unfounded 1 delayed[2]
Q2
4 1 3 0 2 founded 
1 unfounded
3 on time
Q3 7 1 6 0 1 founded 
1 founded in Part
4 unfounded
1 withdrawn
1 delayed 
5 on time
Q4
6 1 5 0 2 founded
1 founded in part
2 unfounded
1 delayed
1 on Time
Totals 19 4 15 0 5 founded
8 unfounded
2 founded in part
3 delayed
9 on Time
3 in approval process ( March 31)

The following table compares the data for 2015-2016[3] with the data for 2016-2017.

Fiscal
Year
Total Complaints
Submitted
Inadmissible Admissible Admissible in Part Founded Unfounded Founded in Part
2015-2016 7 4 2 1 2 3 0
2016-2017 19 4 15 0 5 8 2
2015-2017 26 8 17 1 7 11 2

The number of complaints completed by March 31st of each fiscal year was 4 for 2015-2016 and 12 for 2016-2017.

Summary of Findings 2015-2016

Inadmissible[4]: One complaint fell exclusively and another fell partially under PBC’s jurisdiction. One complaint did not involve an offender under federal sentence.

Admissible Founded: One complaint was founded: The offender’s case management team did not provide information about a travel permit to the Victim Services Unit prior to it occurring, which was non-compliant with CD 784. The corrective measures at the site took the form of increased oversight by the Parole Officer Supervisor, as well as a decision to grant the victim’s request for a geographic restriction for future travel permits and to recommend this condition to the PBC.

Admissible Unfounded: Three cases were unfounded. CSC complied with law and policy in each of these three cases. In one case follow-up actions by CSC included a commitment to raise the victim’s concern at the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group on Victims of Crime and with the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.

Summary of Findings 2016-2017

While the number of complaints doubled compared to 2015-2016, the proportion of admissible complaints went from 28% to 21% but the proportion of founded complaints remained the same (40% of the admissible complaints).

Inadmissible[5]: It was determined that four (4) complaints were deemed inadmissible.  One (1) complaint fell exclusively under PBC’s jurisdiction. Two (2) complaints did not involve an offender under federal sentence, and one (1) complaint was withdrawn.

Admissible Founded: Five (5) complaints were founded:

  • CSC failed to provide the victim with notification about an offender’s ETA, which the victim is entitled to receive pursuant to section 26(1)(c) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA) or in accordance with CD 784, Victim Engagement.  Therefore, the victim’s right to information under the CVBR was infringed.
  • CSC did not notify the victim about the movement of an offender to a different security level in contradiction to section 26(1)(b)(ii.2) of the CCRA or in accordance with CD 784, Victim Engagement.
  • It was determined that services and information CSC provided the victim were untimely and inaccurate[6]. The victim’s right was infringed as CSC did not act in accordance with CD 784, Victim Engagement.
  • CSC failed to inform the victim of the offender’s ETA, did not provide correctional plan information within the timeframe expected by the victim and lacked sensitivity when notifying the victim of offender information on the anniversary of her relative’s death.

Admissible Founded in Part: Two (2) complaints were founded in part.

  • One (1) was founded in part as CSC did not comply with legislation and policy related to victim notification of information related to an offender’s release from custody. The second part of a complaint was deemed unfounded as CSC did in fact manage an offender’s case in accordance with current policy, which includes interactions with local police and the fulfilling of their respective mandates.
  • One (1) complaint was founded in part as the victim did not receive a notification of information within the proper time frame in accordance with CD 784, Victim Engagement.  However, it represents an error on the part of a single staff person.  As such, it does not constitute an infringement or denial of the victim’s right to information as the victim received the information, although it was delayed by four days.

Admissible Unfounded: Eight (8) cases were unfounded. CSC complied with law and policy in each of these cases.

Regional Distribution

Fiscal Year Pacific Prairie Ontario Québec Atlantic N/A
2015-2016 3 0 2 1 0 1[7]
2016-2017 7 4 2 2 0 0
2015-2017 10 4 4 3 0 1

Highlights: Issues Raised

2015-2016

-  Lack of information available to victims when the offender is absent from institution for court
-  CSC’s role in victim safety planning as the offender approaches warrant expiry date
-  Attendance of Victim Services Officers before and after PBC hearings held at CSC institutions
-  Timeliness and completeness of information disclosed to victims (per Annex D of CD 784)

2016-2017

-  Timeliness and completeness of information disclosed to victims (per Annex D of CD 784)
-  Enhancing collaboration with PBC in order to improve services to victims
-  Concern about continuity of services between federal and provincial jurisdictions

Corrective Measures / Recommendations

2015-2016

The responses to the complaints received in 2015-2016 did not lead to the identification of any “recommendations” (per section 25(2-3) of the CVBR). However, in the one founded complaint, the operational site undertook corrective measures. In addition, CSC Victim Services will review its training and policy documents to ensure greater clarity in relation to issues raised by victims in their complaints and the Assistant Commissioner Communications and Engagement sent a memo to the field about situations where the victim requests a Victim Services Officer to be on site before and after Parole Board of Canada (PBC) hearings.

2016-2017

In one case, staff at the institution where the error occurred are now required to enter information about offender movement into a report designed to ensure clear and timely communication with Victim Services. In another case, staff at the institution are now required to follow a practice to double check that Victim Services has been notified prior to moving an offender to a different security level.

In addition, CSC will examine the wording of paragraphs 26 and 29 of the CD 784, Victim Engagement, and ensure the clear distinction between victim-related information and offender-related information from victims.

Summary of Rights

The data indicates the rights that the victims claimed were infringed or denied. CSC deemed that the victim’s rights were denied in two cases between July 23, 2015 and March 31, 2017.

  Right to Information Right to Participation Right to Protection Multi-Rights Complaints* TOTAL
Inadmissible Complaints 1 1 2 2 6
Admissible Complaints 6   1 12 19
Complaints Admissible in Part   1     1
TOTAL 7 2 3 14 26
  Right to Information Right to Participation Right to Protection Multi-Rights Complaints* TOTAL
Complaints Referred to Another Agency or Department 3       3
CSC Acknowledged Infringement or Denial of Rights 4       4

Note: “Multi-Right Complaints” capture instances where a complaint covers more than one right and/or where a victim checks off several rights when they are unsure how to categorize their complaint.

Despite receiving twice the number of complaints in 2016-2017 as in 2015-2016, the number of cases in 2016-2017 where CSC determined that the victims’ right to information had been infringed remained the same: two each year for a total of four. In these, the victims had complained that more than one of their rights had not been respected; however, CSC concluded that only their right to information was infringed. In all cases, CSC apologized to the victims.

ANNEX A - SECTIONS OF THE CANADIAN VICTIMS BILL OF RIGHTS OUTLINING THE RIGHTS GUARANTEED TO VICTIMS

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

6. Every victim has the right, on request, to information about
(a) the criminal justice system and the role of victims in it;
(b) the services and programs available to them as a victim, including restorative justice programs; and
(c) their right to file a complaint for an infringement or denial of any of their rights under this Act.

7. Every victim has the right, on request, to information about
(a) the status and outcome of the investigation into the offence; and
(b) the location of proceedings in relation to the offence, when they will take place and their progress and outcome.

8. Every victim has the right, on request, to information about
(a) reviews under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act relating to the offender’s conditional release and the timing and conditions of that release; and
(b) hearings held for the purpose of making dispositions, as defined in subsection 672.1(1) of the Criminal Code, in relation to the accused, if the accused is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or unfit to stand trial, and the dispositions made at those hearings.

RIGHT TO PROTECTION

9. Every victim has the right to have their security considered by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system.

10. Every victim has the right to have reasonable and necessary measures taken by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system to protect the victim from intimidation and retaliation.

11. Every victim has the right to have their privacy considered by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system.

12. Every victim has the right to request that their identity be protected if they are a complainant to the offence or a witness in proceedings relating to the offence.

13. Every victim has the right to request testimonial aids when appearing as a witness in proceedings relating to the offence.

RIGHT TO PARTICIPATION

14. Every victim has the right to convey their views about decisions to be made by appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system that affect the victim’s rights under this Act and to have those views considered.

15. Every victim has the right to present a victim impact statement to the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system and to have it considered.

RIGHT TO RESTITUTION

16. Every victim has the right to have the court consider making a restitution order against the offender.

17. Every victim in whose favour a restitution order is made has the right, if they are not paid, to have the order entered as a civil court judgment that is enforceable against the offender.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Most of the Act came into effect at that time. However, two significant sections subsequently came into force on June 1, 2016: the disclosure of information about the offender’s correctional plan and progress toward meeting the objectives of the plan, and providing access to the offender’s photograph prior to specific releases. In addition, CSC is now mandated to provide victims with the option of submitting victim information/statements when Case Management begins case preparation for CSC and/or PBC decisions for offenders on release in the community.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

When a response is not ready within the normally expected 25 days, the victim is informed (prior to the expiry of the 25 days) that CSC required more time to complete the review of the complaint.

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

Because the CVBR came into effect in Q2 of fiscal year 2015-2016, the data covered a little less than three quarters (Q2-Q4).

Return to footnote 3 referrer


Footnote 4

CD 786(7) lists the criteria that formal complaints must meet in order to be considered admissible:

  1. the complainant meets the definition of victim pursuant to the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights;
  2. the complainant is present in Canada or is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident;
  3. the offender was under CSC’s jurisdiction at the time of the complaint or of the occurrence complained of the matter that is the subject of the complaint falls under CSC’s jurisdiction;
  4. the complaint relates to at least one of the rights pursuant to the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which must be exercised through the mechanisms provided by law.

Return to footnote 4 referrer


Footnote 5

CD 786(7) lists the criteria that formal complaints must meet in order to be considered admissible:

  • the complainant meets the definition of victim pursuant to the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights;
  • the complainant is present in Canada or is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident;
  • the offender was under CSC’s jurisdiction at the time of the complaint or of the occurrence complained of;
  • the matter that is the subject of the complaint falls under CSC’s jurisdiction;
  • the complaint relates to at least one of the rights pursuant to the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which must be exercised through the mechanisms provided by law.

Return to footnote 5 referrer


Footnote 6

CSC’s Victim Complaints Coordinator shared the complaint with PBC. PBC responds to complaints about matters under their jurisdiction in accordance with their corporate complaint resolution mechanism.

Return to footnote 6 referrer


Footnote 7

The seventh complaint was inadmissible. It referred to an offender who was not under CSC’s jurisdiction.

Return to footnote 7 referrer