Complaints of an attempted strip search and other incidents involving guards at RCMP detachments show the need for better oversight of municipal lockups in B.C., Ombudsperson Jay Chalke says.
Chalke said Monday his office has received a series of complaints about people detained in communities policed on contract with the RCMP, but has no jurisdiction to investigate them. B.C.’s Police Complaint Commissioner and the RCMP’s civilian oversight agency also don’t cover municipal RCMP lockups, he said.
Two complaints about guard conduct have been brought to the Ombudsperson’s office recently.
“One was from a young woman who said she was menstruating when she was detained and was denied feminine hygiene products and access to a shower,” Chalke said. “Another complaint came from a woman who identified herself as as an immigrant and victim of domestic assault, who said she experienced an attempted strip search and assault by a male guard at a municipal lockup.
“These allegations were not verified or investigated because there is no independent body able to investigate them.”
Chalke said he raised the issue a year ago with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and it requires a “fully independent statutory process” to address it.
B.C.’s Police Complaints Commissioner oversees municipal police officer conduct and the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is a civilian-led organization that investigates incidents of death or serious harm involving police officers.