RCMP's disciplinary review body says it's swamped, warns of delays
External Review Committee says some aspects of new internal disciplinary process are too informal
The body that oversees RCMP internal disciplinary decisions is getting swamped with case files.
The External Review Committee warns in its annual report that it faces significant challenges to its operations as it received 248 per cent more referrals in the last year and that "delays for the completion of files — already longer than acceptable — have started to rise."
The RCMP refers cases to the ERC to conduct reviews on internal grievance, discipline and harassment allegations in order to ensure the processes are fair and transparent. The types of cases referred to the committee include decisions to stop pay, medically discharge an employee or relocate someone.
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Over the last five years, the small organization (nine people, including contract and support staff) received an average of 29 cases per year. Last year, 101 cases were referred to the ERC.
Among the issues highlighted in the 2015-16 report is a trend growing out of legislative changes to the Mounties' disciplinary process.
CBC News has reported on concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in the new system, where less serious conduct cases are dealt with more informally than in the past. Any conduct that does not result in the RCMP seeking dismissal of a member is dealt with behind closed doors in a conduct meeting.
According to the ERC, these meetings are perhaps so informal as to be unfair.
"In reviewing the appeals of these decisions, the ERC found that the conduct authorities' reasons for their respective decisions were either insufficient or absent," says the report.
In two cases, the ERC found the manager's decisions simply rehashed the allegations, made no findings of fact or referred to any evidence.
"The ERC found that the failure to provide reasons contravened (policy), breached the principles of procedural fairness and rendered the decisions clearly unreasonable, and prevented the (RCMP) commissioner from properly assessing the appeals," the report says.
Looking to the future, the ERC warns that with no more resources to handle what could be a permanent spike in case referrals, Mounties may have to wait much longer for their cases to be resolved.
The executive director of the ERC refused CBC's request for an interview.