CSC's Response to the Office of the Correctional Investigator Report entitled: "An investigation into the Dangerous Use of Firearms at Kent Institution between January 8 and January 18, 2010"

This document responds, as per CSC's commitment, to the 2010 Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI) report entitled "An Investigation into the Dangerous Use of Firearms at Kent Institution between January 8 and January 18, 2010."

The safe, secure and humane custody of offenders is a fundamental part of the mandate of federal corrections in Canada. The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) takes its responsibility to ensure the safety and security of institutions, staff and of the public very seriously.

Due to the potential violent actions of offenders, and/or the threat of such actions, ensuring this safety can sometimes require the appropriate use of force. CSC has strict guidelines on the use of force and all staff must adhere to those guidelines. They are expected to act according to law and to meet the appropriate professional standards of conduct.

On March 21, 2011, the Office of the Correctional Investigator (OCI) released a report with respect to the management of a special search conduct pursuant to section 53 of the CCRA at Kent Institution from January 8 to 18, 2010. The search was initiated after information was received regarding the introduction of a prohibited item into the institution that presented a ballistic threat. The Assistant Deputy Commissioner Institutional Operations (ADCIO) and the Warden verified the information and concluded that the risk was of an elevated nature. As a result, the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the Regional Tactical Team (TAC) were deployed and provided a mandate to conduct an institutional search.

Inmates were removed from their cells and searched, as were their cells and the common areas. Most offenders were compliant. Some were not. TAC and ERT members were deployed in the search and provided armed coverage. Regular institutional staff who were not armed were also deployed to assist in the search.

Immediately after the incident, a regional use of force review was conducted, as is the standard with all cases involving the use of force with offenders. CSC also conducted a special review of all documentation developed in association with this specific incident to identify potential shortcomings in the corrective actions contemplated and taken at various levels of CSC and potential management gaps. This CSC review identified concerns which required a comprehensive response.

This review has determined that there may have been issues with respect to the use of the TAC team and the scope of their mandate. Although the review has indicated that this was an isolated incident and is in no way a systemic issue, TAC has, as a result of the review, been disbanded and integrated with the ERT.

The review also raises issues with respect to a section 53 search. The execution of a section 53 search does not usually require managerial oversight beyond that of a warden, as such searches are routinely completed in a correctional environment. The section 53 search conducted at Kent Institution was intended to mitigate the risk of a ballistic threat and CSC has concluded that potential harm did exist. Therefore, the deployment of a section 53 search was warranted.

CSC's review further suggests, however, that the climate within Kent Institution was further intensified by the reaction of staff and stakeholders such as unions. This intensification suggests that the situation should have gone beyond a section 53 search and been managed under the emergency management model.

In response to the results of the OCI report, and taking into account the finding of CSC's review, a series of commitments were made by Don Head, the Commissioner of CSC, to the Correctional Investigator, Howard Sapers. All of the following commitments have since been completed.

They are:

  • A presentation to CSC's executive committee (EXCOM) detailing the full account of the management of the section 53 incident with discussion on a proposed action plan and follow-up actions.
  • A full change of command audit of Kent Institution with the purpose of providing the new institutional head with a mandate to address any residual issues.
  • The establishment of a team by the Commissioner of Corrections consisting of internal and external members qualified in the use of force with the mandate to determine if the policy and governance structure for use of force in CSC is current, adequate and robust. This team is also tasked with suggesting appropriate changes to the current policy and governance structure if needed.
  • An examination of the capacity of the security branch to conduct the review of the use of force, provide appropriate reports in compliance with policy, and identify and mitigate organizational risks.
  • The review of possible requirements to strengthen the rigor of post-search reports associated with incidents of elevated risk under section 53 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
  • The confirmation by all sites of the existence of contingency plans consistent with requirements of existing policy relative to emergency management.
  • The examination of the possibility of issuing accountability letters to those who were directly involved and responsible for notable breaches in policy in governing the section 53 search and the roles and responsibilities of Commissioner's Directive 567, by the Regional Deputy Commissioner of the Pacific Region.

As a result of the findings of CSC's extensive review of this event at both the regional and national levels, the Service is confident that the events which occurred during the section 53 search at Kent in January 2010 were an isolated incident. CSC has an accountability process that ensures that the manner in which force is used in response to a particular event is appropriate to the event, conforms to the appropriate professional standards, and is in accordance with law and organizational policy. CSC has taken steps to ensure all section 53 searches meet the standards expected by law and by policy.