Commissioner's Directive

Preservation of Crime Scenes and Evidence



  • To provide direction for the preservation of crime scenes and evidence through procedural safeguards
  • To ensure that the preservation of life takes precedence over the preservation of crime scenes and evidence


Applies to all staff involved in the preservation of crime scenes and evidence in institutional and community settings


  1. The Institutional Head/District Director will:
    1. designate the Security Intelligence Officer as primary police liaison. In cases where the Security Intelligence Officer in the community is unavailable, the Area Director or Parole Officer Supervisor will assume these responsibilities
    2. ensure that responsibilities as outlined in CD  800  ’ Health Services are adhered to.


  1. For any staff member who comes across a possible scene of a crime:
    1. the priority will be the preservation of life by ensuring appropriate medical attention
    2. access to the scene will then be controlled to the extent possible until the appropriate security staff member assumes responsibility for the crime scene.
  2. In the case of an apparent attempted suicide, or suicide, or a death resulting from unknown causes, the provisions of this policy with respect to the protection of the incident scene and protection of evidence will apply until it is determined not to be a crime scene.
  3. The police will be contacted in cases where an offender is found dead.
  4. A community staff member will, to the extent possible, control access to the scene until police take over.
  5. In the case where a computer is considered as possible evidence in a crime, both the Chief, IT Client Services, and the Manager, Information Technology Security, will be notified immediately. The latter will provide direction on the proper protection of any computer-based evidence in cooperation with the Security Intelligence Officer, until the investigation is handed over to other authorities.

Response to Medical Emergencies

  1. All medical emergencies will be responded to in accordance with CD  800  ’ Health Services.

Protecting the Scene of a Crime

  1. Pursuant to CD  600  ’ Management of Emergencies:
    1. the interests and well-being of staff and members of the public at large must be safeguarded, and
    2. offenders will be treated in a safe, secure and humane fashion.
  2. A possible scene of a crime must be treated with the utmost care so as to not contaminate or destroy evidence. The following minimum protocol will be adhered to in order to protect the scene of a crime:
    1. establish a perimeter to protect the scene
    2. evacuate non-involved persons
    3. prevent unauthorized persons from entering the crime scene or contaminating any evidence
    4. prevent any damage or further damage
    5. maintain an accurate "scene log" to record the names and the times of everyone who enters and/or leaves the scene
    6. for court purposes, record names and times of any individuals who enter the scene who do not have a bona fide requirement to do so and advise the Correctional Manager of this fact
    7. maintain control of the scene until relieved by a designated officer or by police
    8. when another officer arrives to assume control of the scene, verbally confirm this as a fact and record the time and the person's name and rank.

Preservation of Evidence

  1. The following steps will be taken to preserve evidence:
    1. do not move anything unless absolutely necessary
    2. to the extent possible, avoid contaminating evidence
    3. photograph or video record the scene as well as individual objects before moving anything
    4. protect forensic evidence from the elements
    5. record and identify any evidence found or moved (i.e. what, where, by whom and when)
    6. maintain evidence in possession of the person who seized it until it can be handed over to police or properly stored using the Contraband/Unauthorized Item Seizure Tag (CSC/SCC 0482)
    7. keep each piece of evidence separate from other pieces of evidence in order to prevent cross-contamination
    8. use a paper bag for blood-stained items
    9. isolate witnesses from each other and from other persons, and record their statements on the Statement/Observation Report (CSC/SCC 0875) (see Instructions (CSC/SCC  0875-01) for completing the form)
    10. do not disturb a computer when it is part of an incident scene, and immediately notify both the Chief, IT Client Services, and the Manager, Information Technology Security
    11. when a computer is part of an incident scene and there is an apparent attempt to alter computer evidence (such as a rapidly blinking hard drive access light), turn the computer off as quickly as possible and protect it from contamination
    12. when a cell phone or other mobile device(s) is part of an incident scene, take precautions to safeguard the information on the device by turning off the device as quickly as possible, removing the SIM card (if applicable) and contacting the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Institutional Operations
    13. secure range tapes and Main Communication Control Post recordings following a suicide or any other incident that is likely to result in a national investigation.

Transfer of Responsibility

  1. Responsibility for protection, preservation and continuity of evidence ceases when the scene of the incident and/or the evidence is taken over by the investigative body (i.e., the police or the Security Intelligence Officer). When evidence is handed over to any law enforcement agency and prior to leaving the scene of the incident, the Security Intelligence Officer (or staff member performing the security intelligence function) will ensure a Transmittal Note and Receipt (GC 044A) form is completed and signed by both parties.


  1. Strategic Policy Division
    National Headquarters


Original signed by:
Don Head



CD 568 ’ Management of Security Information and Intelligence
CD 568-8 ’ Authority for Use of Surveillance Equipment
CD 600 ’ Management of Emergencies
CD 800 ’ Health Services


Crime scene: the location where an illegal act may have taken place or a location wherein evidence of a crime may be located.

Cross-contamination: the adulteration of one piece of evidence by another piece of evidence (e.g. the transfer of blood, cloth fibres or hair from one article to another).

Evidence: anything that tends to prove or disprove an alleged fact.

Forensic evidence: evidence arrived at by scientific or technical means.

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.