ATI/FOI Resources on Police Accountability

*Note: This page was prepared by student researchers as part of a class on Investigative Research and Secrecy. The authors filed multiple independent Access to Information requests on issues related to police deviance and accountability. As part of their project, they produced this page of notes and tips on using ATI/FOI research. 

 

The Privacy Act

The Privacy Act provides individuals the right to seek access to their personal information that is held by the federal government, as well as to govern the collection, use, disclosure, retention and disposal of personal information.

In the Context of the Access to Information Act under the Privacy Act names and identifying information may be redacted or exempted according to the provisions found in the ATIA

Link to Privacy Act: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/P-21/

The Access to Information Act

The Access to Information Act gives both individuals and corporations present in Canada the right to seek access to federally controlled information and records

Link to Access of Information Act: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/A-1/

Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC)

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) is an independent agency which was created by Parliament to ensure impartial oversight and investigation of RCMP conduct. The CPC investigates all complaints regarding current RCMP member conduct in the course of policing duties or function nation-wide (the conduct of off-duty officers does not fall within the CPC’s jurisdiction). The duties of the CPC and the process of receiving and investigating complaints are outlined in sections 45.32 and 45.35 of the RCMP Act (1985), respectively. Complaints regarding the conduct of RCMP members can be made to either the CPC or directly to the RCMP. When a complaint is made directly to the RCMP regarding the conduct of (an) RCMP member(s), the RCMP Act requires the agency to direct the complaint to the agency’s complaint body, the CPC.

For more information regarding the scope of the commission’s duties of oversight and the complaints process, you can access the CPC website here.

A number of official statements and reports can be accessed through the CPC website. Annual Reports range from the agency’s inception 1997-1998 until the most recent fiscal year. These reports are available in PDF format from 2004-2005 onwards. Those which cannot be accessed in a PDF version are provided in full text on the CPC website. A listing of Annual Reports can be found here.

Numerous other Corporate Reports including Audits and Evaluations, Departmental Performance Reports, Financial Statements, Future Oriented Financial Statements, Quarterly Financial Reports, Reports on Annual Expenditures for Travel, Hospitality and Conferences, Reports on Plans and Priorities, and Strategic Plans can be viewed here.

There are also several Special Reports available through the CPC website. These reports have been created by the CPC, RCMP, as well as Inquiry Commissions. Click here to view a listing of these Special Reports.

Previously Completed Access to Information Requests

Information pertaining to the CPC can also be accessed through filing Access to Information Requests. Previously completed requests filed with CPC from December 2011 to present can be viewed here. The access file number is listed along with a summary of the request and the number of pages disclosed. Requests which have been previously completed are available for re-release upon written request which can be mailed or faxed to the Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator.

A listing of previously completed Access to Information requests processed by the CPC prior to December 2011 (ranging from January 2008 until November 2011) was filed for in March 2013. The file number to request a re-release of this information is A2012-027. This list includes the file number of each request, a summary of the request, as well as the disposition and number of pages disclosed.

Previously completed ATI requests are organised by month of response – months in which no requests were processed indicate ‘nothing to report’. The months of January – March 2008 specify that the records have been disposed of according to the Records Disposition Schedule and, therefore, no request summaries or file numbers were included in the release package of File No. A2012-027.

CPC Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator contact info:

Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator
Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP
Bag Service 1722, Station B
Ottawa, ON
K1P 0B3

Telephone: 613-946-5216
Facsimile: 613-952-8045
Email address: Rochelle.Boudreau@cpc-cpp.gc.ca

If the information you are seeking is not available through a previously completed ATI request you may wish to file a new formal request for information. This can be done by completing an Access to Information Request Form and mailing it, along with a cheque for five dollars, to the ATIP Coordinator, at the address listed above.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Organizational Structure of the RCMP

Information resources of business value are classified under three groups, Administrative, Operational and Employee. Administrative information resources are day-to-day administrative functions and activities of the organization including those that identify methods and procedures governing how the organization manages programs and services. They are divided into six sub-classifications. These are further categorized into sub-topics, which are standard throughout the RCMP. Information resources are retained in accordance with the subject content based on a central file classification structure, rather than function or activity.  Operational information resources pertain to the enforcement of the law in the detection, prevention, or suppression of crime generally, as well as the administration of individuals who have been involved in investigations under the Criminal Code, federal and provincial statutes, municipal bylaws and territorial ordinances. This also includes the management of RCMP intelligence.  Employee information resources provide the history of the employee’s career. The volume of information will vary from location to location, however retention periods are standardized. This structure is centrally regulated and this enables the RCMP to describe its information holdings in the three distinct categories. Requesters need only describe the information they wish to access. If the request pertains to a specific incident, the location of that incident is also required.

Background of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

In May 1873, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force out of a need for a national police force to implement the law in Canada’s newly acquired western territories.  The new police force gradually acquired the name North-West Mounted Police (NWMP).  In 1904, King Edward VII granted the Force the prefix ‘Royal’ in recognition of its many services to Canada and the Empire.  In 1919, Parliament voted to merge the Force with the Dominion Police, a federal police force with jurisdiction in eastern Canada. When the legislation took effect on February 1, 1920, the name became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  The RCMP/GRC wording is specifically protected under the Trade-marks Act.

Access to Information:

To make an Access to Information request, you may either submit your request on the RCMP specific form, the Treasury Board form or by writing a letter outlining what it is you are requesting and sending it to:

Previously Completed Access to Information Requests

Information and data that has been previously from the RCMP can be requested by faxing or emailing the access coordinator.

Access Coordinator (s)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Michael Jeffrey

Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator

RCMP MAILSTOP #61

73 Leikin Drive

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0R2

Telephone: 613-843-6800

Facsimile: 613-825-8221

MJeffrey@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

Royal Canadian Mounted Police External Review Committee

David Paradiso

Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator

60 Queen Street, Room 513

P.O. Box 1159, Station B

Ottawa, Ontario  K1P 5R2

Telephone: 613-998-2874

Facsimile: 613-990-8969

david.paradiso@erc-cee.gc.ca

Note:

There is a processing fee of $5.00 which is needed before work is started. Payment can be made by cheque or money order to “The Receiver General of Canada”, or by cash. There are no credit cards accepted as payment

As with Privacy Act requests, every individual who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident within Canada, as well as businesses and corporations within the country are permitted to make an Access to Information request.

If you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and you require information you will need to find a representative that falls within the above noted criteria.

In the event that you are a Canadian citizen living outside of the country, you must provide proof of citizenship with your request, in the form of a photocopy of your birth certificate or passport.

Link to Access to Information Form RCMP: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/form/index-eng.htm

New Site for Accessing Information: Proactive Disclosure

The Government of Canada has implemented a series of measures to strengthen public sector management by enhancing transparency and oversight of public resources in the federal government.

One of these measures includes the proactive disclosure of financial- and human resources-related information by departments and agencies. By making this information readily available on departmental web sites, Canadians and Parliament are better able to hold the Government and public sector officials to account.

To this end, the Government announced the mandatory publication on departmental Web sites of travel and hospitality expenses for selected government officials; contracts entered into by the Government of Canada for amounts over $10,000 (with only limited exceptions such as national security); and the reclassification of positions.

Although these disclosures are available on departmental web sites information is limited but could be used as a starting point

  • Disclosure of Travel and Hospitality Expenses
  • Report on Annual Expenditures for Travel, Hospitality and Conferences
  • Disclosure of Contracts
  • Disclosure of Position Reclassifications
  • Disclosure of Grants and Contributions Reports
  • Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA)-Disclosure of Information on Founded Wrongdoing

Previously Released Information Packages/ Completed Access to Information Requests

Link to Previously released packages here

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) posts summaries of completed access to information requests processed by their Access to Information and Privacy Branch (ATIP).
  • Requests focusing on personal information or third party proprietary information are not included.
  • To obtain a copy of the records released in response to a request informally you must fax or write to the address below. It is also possible to email the access coordinator
  • The records will be disclosed in the form that they were released under the Access to Information Act including format, language(s) and any exemptions or exclusions that were applied at the time of release
  • Lists of Previously released information is organized by year then by month- each month lists Request Number, Summary of Request, Disposition (e.g. partial or full disclosure) and Pages Released

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator

RCMP Mailstop # 61,

73 Leikin Drive

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0R2

MJeffrey@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

Fax: 613-825-8221

 

Info Source

Sources of Federal Government and Employee

Link: http://infosource.gc.ca/emp/emp00-eng.asp

Treasury Board and listing of all Access Coordinators for Federal Government Departments:

Link: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/atip-aiprp/is/is-eng.asp

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

Canada Border Services Agency exists since December 2003 and has been an essential part of the Public Safety Portfolio, which was created to protect Canadians and maintain a peaceful and safe society. Indeed, the agency is responsible for providing integrated border services that support national security and public safety. The mission is to ensure the security and prosperity of Canada by managing the access of people and goods to and from Canada. Moreover, CBSA has it values and are always used for every procedure: integrity, respect and professionalism.

Documents Available Through CBSA Website

  • Audits      and evaluations
  • Access      to information and privacy
  • Accountability
  • Financial      statements and reports
  • Performance
  • Planning
  • Public      opinion research
  • Workplace      investigations

Access Coordinator

Canada Border Services Agency
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator
410 Laurier Avenue West, 11th floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0L8

Tel: 613-960-1414
Fax: 613-957-6408

General inquiries concerning the Access to Information and Privacy request process at the CBSA may be emailed to ATIP-AIPRP@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca

Observations

Obtaining information from the government is a lengthily process. Through this process one is able to see many obstacles in order to obtain sensitive information. From my experience, I can argue that bureaucratic opposition to access sensitive information about members of the government is the central problem facing ATI. Apparently, ATIA is supposed to provide information to citizen about the backstage of government practices. There is a belief in ATI as a means of producing information of public interest. My thoughts on ATI developed through my use of ATI in research on corruption in the CBSA. With the ATI there is a commitment to provide transparency in government as a public good. In my opinion, I believe that transparency is often unrealized and becomes a form of opacity in government. Ideas of accountability, transparency, openness, and freedom can distract from understanding the complicated and long process of using ATI. Through this process, I was able to observe the use of security as an organizing framework of government activity. Coordinators trying to secure and protect other agencies by asking for more time to analyse the information, and all these are moves and techniques of opacity.

I took many steps in order to receive my requests, but none of the steps worked. In recommend, having plenty of time and patience because this process is extremely long and weeks go by without any response. However, I scrutinize other sources and found information about the corruption in the CBSA. I found that many of the border guard committed illegal behaviour and after six years working they started committing crimes and accepted money from mafia. Indeed, corruption is still present in our agencies. Screening exams seem to be too lenient and too general. Depth research and information about the border guard should be performed. Sadly, we are all at risk when one of these guards is letting illegal merchandise enter Canada. We can conclude that the CBSA needs complex screening exams because these individuals are destroying the reputation of this agency. Most of the information in this section from the corruption/misconduct of employees of the CBSA is dedicated to cases where border officers were discovered in receiving from five millions to 10 million dollars for allowing illegal drugs into Canada and other received from 2 – 20 years in prison for their misconduct.

Tips for ATI

Preliminary Research:

  • It is important to identify existing information
  • Vital to have a working timeline of events
  • Attempt to find a variety of sources: media reports, government websites, articles, conversation with contacts etc.
  • Extremely important “mining” previous released ATI packages
  • Ideal to examine new ATI packages to identify areas for  follow-up research.

When Requesting Formulation

  • It is important to be clear, precise and concise
  • Important to utilize effective “keywords” and agency vocabulary
  • Identify what types of records and date range you want
  • Try to have manageable requests
  • Important to said “exemption or exclusion” of certain types of records

Brokering access

  • Always fill the requests
  • It is important to be organized and able to handle the “life-cycle’ of a given request
  • Vital to negotiate with government access brokers (ATI analyst)
    • Need to be clear in wording and scope
    • Important to be flexible, and able to negotiable regarding wording.
    • Need patience and manage delays and extensions seeking interim release packages

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