Conduct Case MPCC‑2017‑044 Summary

The complainant, a Military Police member, alleged that a supervisor had deleted photographs from a camera’s memory card. Those photographs were taken by the complainant at a crime scene approximately one month before their deletion and were considered to be part of the evidence gathered at the scene. The complainant framed his allegation as both an interference and a conduct complaint.

The interference complaint was dealt with by the Military Police Complaints Commission (Commission) at first instance as per subsection 250.34(1) of the National Defence Act. That interference complaint is dealt with in another report under the Commission file number 2017‑043.

The conduct complaint was dealt with in the first instance by the Professional Standards (PS) Branch of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) as per subsection 250.26(1) of the National Defence Act. As the complaint alleged there had been obstruction of justice as per subsection 139(2) of the Criminal Code, and PS does not conduct criminal investigations, the conduct complaint was referred to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) for an assessment. The CFNIS did not recommend that further action be taken on the criminal charge. Given this assessment, PS determined that the complaint was one of interference rather than conduct and so was solely within the jurisdiction of the Commission. As a result, PS did not conduct an investigation.

Upon receipt of the complaint, the Commission requested disclosure of all relevant Military Police file materials from the CFPM. Following an initial assessment of the complaint, the Commission conducted a detailed review of the materials received from the CFPM, in order to assess whether it needed to take additional investigative steps. The Commission determined that further investigation was necessary, including interviews of the complainant, the subjects, and one witness. The Commission also determined that the CFNIS’ assessment was a “matter relating to the complaint,” as per subsection 250.32(2) of the National Defence Act.

The Commission identified two subjects of the conduct complaint and the related matter. One was the complainant’s supervisor who was alleged to have deleted the crime scene photographs. The other subject was a member of the CFNIS who had been asked to review whether the allegation by the complainant that the conduct of his supervisor in deleting the photographs constituted the offence of obstruction of justice under the Criminal Code.

The Commission found that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude who had deleted the crime scene photographs or when this had been done. The allegation that the complainant’s supervisor had committed misconduct by interfering in the complainant’s criminal investigation was therefore unsubstantiated.

The Commission also found the allegation against the CFNIS member to be unsubstantiated. He was asked to assess whether a criminal offence was made out on the facts presented to him and he carried out this task. He was not asked to conduct an investigation.

The Commission made one recommendation. This recommendation concerned the need for those Military Police members assessing criminal allegations to document the process leading to a conclusion that a criminal charge be proceeded with or not pursued.

The Commission also made one observation. This observation concerned the role of the Professional Standards (PS) Branch in dealing with conduct complaints that are framed as criminal allegations. While PS does not investigate criminal allegations, it can still treat such matters as potential breaches of the Military Police Professional Code of Conduct or as conduct that falls below the norm expected of Military Police members. PS should examine complaints framed as criminal allegations to see if they fit within its mandate, and need not rely entirely on the findings of a CFNIS investigation.

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