Commissioner's Directive

Authority for Use of Surveillance Equipment


  • To establish and define the requirements and procedures for the installation and use of surveillance equipment to safeguard the safety and security of all individuals and government assets
  • Ensure that surveillance respects the rights of individuals to a reasonable expectation of privacy as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Privacy Act


Applies to managers and staff who implement and authorize the installation and use of surveillance equipment to safeguard the security of all individuals and government assets


  1. The Regional Deputy Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner will:
    1. seek the Commissioner's authority for the installation and use of covert surveillance equipment in the Correctional Service of Canada
    2. consult the Departmental Security Officer and Legal Services to ensure the integrity of all actions taken to install and use covert surveillance equipment
    3. ensure that covert video surveillance is only used when all other reasonable measures, including overt video surveillance, have proven ineffective or are likely to be ineffective.
  2. The Institutional Head/District Director will:
    1. ensure that signage is posted, where applicable, stating that an area may be subject to surveillance
    2. ensure that the principle of reasonable cause to suspect a serious misconduct, which may include a criminal act, is respected prior to supporting covert surveillance.


  1. Surveillance through video recording must not be used where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g. a private office, a change room or a single office in an open office environment).
  2. If the alleged conduct under investigation is believed to be criminal, the police will be asked to investigate.
  3. To the extent possible, covert video surveillance should not intrude on the privacy of persons other than the individual(s) under investigation.
  4. The surveillance must not continue longer than is reasonably necessary to conduct the investigation.
  5. The individual(s) placed under covert surveillance must be notified of the surveillance after the surveillance period has terminated. This notification includes the place the recording occurred, when it occurred, and the justification for the surveillance, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so.
  6. Access to the video recording and any information generated by the recording is to be strictly limited to those with a need to know. The list of persons will be defined in each situation.
  7. The video recording is not to be used as a means for monitoring employee performance.


  1. Only those portions of a video recording believed to contain evidence pertinent to a serious misconduct are to be viewed. Every effort will be made to respect the privacy of, and minimize the impact on, persons not specifically involved in the investigation.
  2. When a recording is to be disclosed to a law enforcement agency, only that portion relating to the incident(s) will be provided.
  3. The authenticity and integrity of the recording system will be established and the copy of the recording will be protected in order for the electronic document to be used as evidence.


  1. Overt video recordings are to be retained for a minimum of 144  hours (6  days). The Institutional Head has the authority to order their retention for an extended period in case the recordings are required:
    1. as evidence in a potential criminal investigation
    2. as evidence in a potential CSC investigation at the national, regional or local levels, or
    3. for reasons other than an investigation.
  2. Covert video surveillance recordings are to be retained for a minimum of 30  days. If no incident is recorded, they must be overwritten or destroyed after that time.
  3. When evidence in a video recording is used for an investigation, or an administrative action and decision, the evidence must be retained by the Departmental Security Officer for a period of two years starting from the date of the last action taken.


  1. Strategic Policy Division
    National Headquarters


Original signed by:
Don Head




CD 567-1 ’ Use of Force
CD 568 ’ Management of Security Information and Intelligence
CD 568-4 ’ Preservation of Crime Scenes and Evidence
CD 568-10 ’ Interception of Inmate Communications

Canada Evidence Act
Library and Archives Canada Act


Covert video surveillance: the use of a concealed video without an audio track for non-routine investigative purposes.

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

Overt video surveillance: the unconcealed use of video for monitoring purposes or to record activities for historical review.

For more information

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