Communication with the media is important in ensuring that the SIU remains responsive, transparent and accountable to the public it serves. The SIU has developed a comprehensive Communications program which aims to foster effective communications with the media while also respecting the integrity of SIU’s investigations and the important privacy interests of those involved.
The SIU’s Communications Coordinator is the Unit’s primary spokesperson with overall responsibility for responding to the media at scenes of major events. The Communications Coordinator will also work out of the SIU’s headquarters to respond to media requests for initial/follow-up interviews and ongoing progress reports during the course of an investigation.
The tension between the need for a government agency such as the SIU to share information with the public and the obligation to keep certain information confidential because of legal and policy restrictions is a constant challenge. This requires a balancing act, as the needs and sensitivities of the media, complainants, the community, police and the SIU all have to be considered within a legislative framework. It is imperative to ensure that the information released is fair, does not prejudice the investigation and does not violate the privacy rights of those involved.
In order to maintain its timely response to news organizations during all hours of the day, lead investigators and supervisors have also been provided media training. This increased availability of SIU representatives to respond to media inquiries has enhanced media coverage of SIU activity and has improved the media’s understanding of the agency’s investigative processes.
The Communications Coordinator works closely with the media relations officers of individual police services to facilitate the release of information in SIU cases, and to ensure there are no gaps in information delivered to the public.