No criminal charges will be laid after a year-long investigation into allegations that Edmonton police mistreated homeless people in May 2005, RCMP said Wednesday.

The review, conducted by the RCMP Edmonton commercial crime section, was started in February 2007 after reports that homeless people were being picked up by police vans and dumped on the outskirts of the city.

RCMP focused on a specific case, reported by a homeowner in north Edmonton, who said nine homeless people were dropped off in his neighbourhood after spending hours locked in a sweltering van.


Chris Robillard and his partner, Dianne Wood, seen here selling newspapers, say they were among nine homeless people picked up by police in May 2006 and kept for hours in a sweltering van. ((CBC))

"It wasn't fair to us," complained Chris Robillard in an interview with CBC News in February 2007. He and his partner, Dianne Wood, were among the homeless people picked up.

"Picked up like wild animals. Rounded up like cattle and thrown in there."

Robillard admitted the pair was intoxicated, but said they were doing nothing wrong when they were detained.

When the allegations surfaced, Edmonton Police Chief Mike Boyd asked the RCMP to investigate whether there was any wrongdoing by his officers.

Homeless people have often complained about being routinely harassed by police

The RCMP forwarded the results of its investigation to Alberta Justice's special prosecutions branch which decided no criminal charges were warranted, said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes in a brief news release.

Police launch internal investigation

The fact that the criminal investigation is over does not mean the case is closed, said Edmonton Police spokesman Dean Parthenis.

He said the police service would now launch an internal review to examine whether there was any misconduct by officers that would lead to discipline or procedural changes.

Parthenis couldn't say how long that review would take.

"In this particular case there would be numerous witnesses to track down and interview ... so it would be very difficult to nail down a specific time line."