Commissioner's Directive

Peace Officer Designations


  1. To ensure the safe, secure and humane custody and control of offenders by designating appropriate members of the Service as peace officers.


  1. Members designated as peace officers are:
    1. Members employed in a penitentiary other than a Community Correctional Centre;
    2. Members employed in a Community Correctional Centre in managerial and/or operational capacities (this includes superintendents, case management officers, and correctional officers but excludes members whose duties are clerical or secretarial in nature);
    3. Members employed in parole offices in managerial and/or operational capacities (this includes district directors, area managers, section supervisors and parole officers but excludes members whose duties are clerical or secretarial in nature);
    4. Deputy Commissioners of regions and members assigned to Regional Headquarters in a managerial and/or operational capacity;
    5. Members temporarily assigned to functions mentioned in paragraphs a. to d. while they are so assigned;
    6. Members assigned to the Correctional Programs and Operations Sector at National Headquarters other than such members whose duties are clerical or secretarial in nature;
    7. Directors of Correctional Staff Colleges;
    8. Instructors responsible for training in security functions;
    9. Members responsible for the supervision of members referred to in paragraph h.
  2. A summary of the powers, authority, protection and privileges that a peace officer has by law is attached at Annex "A".

Original signed by
Willie Gibbs, Acting Commissioner,


The following summary is intended as information for the Service personnel whom the Commissioner has designated as peace officers under section 10 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. It is not an exhaustive enumeration of the Criminal Code provisions dealing with peace officers, but rather focuses on those elements that would have particular relevance to the correctional setting. Furthermore, the aim has been to provide an "overview" and not an extensive legal analysis of the provisions in question.

Use of Force

  • A peace officer is allowed to use force when carrying out an arrest, with or without warrant, to prevent someone from escaping. [subs. 25(4) of the Criminal Code]
  • A peace officer may use as much force as he believes necessary in suppressing a riot. [s. 32 of the Criminal Code]
  • A general power is given to peace officers to use the necessary force in doing what they are required or authorized to do; the possibility of using force is therefore open to a peace officer performing his duties, even if the particular provision of the Code under which he is acting does not give him such power. [subs. 25(1)b) of the Criminal Code]

The power of arrest

  • The Code allows any person to arrest without a warrant a person whom he finds committing an indictable offence, or a person who he believes to have committed such offence and to be escaping from lawful arrrest. However, a peace officer, in addition to someone he finds committing and indictable offence, may arrest someone who he believes that a warrant of committal or arrest is in force in the territorial jurisdiction where he finds the person. His general powers respecting arrests are therefore much greater than those of ordinary citizens even though such powers are subject to certain exceptions. [s. 495 of the Criminal Code]
  • A peace officer may also arrest without warrant an accused who he believes has violated or is about to violate a summons, appearance notice promise to appear, or who has committed an indictable offence after the coming into force of any such order or promise. [subs. 524(2) of the Criminal Code]
  • A peace officer is justified in arresting any person whom he finds committing a breach of the peace or who is about to join or renew the breach of the peace. He is also justified in receiving into custody any person given into his charge as having been involved in a breach of the peace. [s. 31 of the Criminal Code]

The Criminal Code provides for the arresting powers of peace officers in many other situations; however, the above-mentioned are those which would more likely be of use in the present context.

Firearms, restricted and prohibited weapons, ammunitions

  • Section 92 of the Criminal Code provides that designated classes of peace officers are not guilty of any Criminal Code offence regarding restricted and prohibited weapons by reason only that they have such weapons in their possession for the purpose of their duties or employment. As subsection 17(a) of the Restricted Weapons and Firearms Regulations designates prison officers as a "class" for these purposes, they benefit from the Criminal Code protection in this respect. [s. 92 of the Criminal Code]
  • If a peace officer believes that an offence respecting firearms, restricted or prohibited weapons, or ammunitions is or has been committed, he may search without warrant a person, vehicle or place (except a dwelling house) and seize such objects in relation to which such offence has been or is being committed. [s. 101 of the Criminal Code]
  • A peace officer may further seize without warrant a prohibited weapon found in the possession of someone not authorized to have such weapon, a restricted weapon if the person having it cannot produce a registration or permit for the possession of such weapon, or any firearm found in the possession of someone under sixteen years old who cannot produce the permit under which he may lawfully possess a firearm. [s. 102 of the Criminal Code]

Responsibilities of peace officers

Being given extensive powers, peace officers are compelled to exercise such powers lawfully. They must act on reasonable grounds, without abuse of their powers; furthermore, the power to act is in some instances coupled with an obligation to act, and peace officers can be held criminally responsible for a failure to intervene in certain situations. The following are concrete applications of the peace officers' responsibilities:

  • Like any other person, a peace officer who is authorized to use force in a given situation is criminally responsible for any excess thereof. [s. 26 of the Criminal Code]
  • A peace officer who fails, without a reasonable excuse, to take all reasonable steps to suppress a riot is liable to imprisonment for two years. [s. 69 of the Criminal Code]
  • Like any other person, a peace officer who fails to perform a legal duty, thereby permitting a person whom he has in lawful custody to escape, is liable to imprisonment for two years. [subs. 146(b) of the Criminal Code]
  • A peace officer or an employee of a prison who wilfully permits someone to escape from lawful custody is liable to imprisonment for five years. [s. 147 of the Criminal Code]


For more information

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