What We Do
The SIU is a civilian law enforcement agency, independent of the police, that conducts criminal investigations into circumstances involving police and civilians that have resulted in serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault. In the course of its investigations, the Unit gathers and assesses evidence, and the Director of the SIU decides whether or not the evidence leads to the reasonable belief that a criminal offence has been committed. If the Director forms such a belief, she or he shall lay a criminal charge against the officer(s), and that charge will then be prosecuted by the Crown Attorney. If the Director does not form such a belief, she or he cannot lay a criminal charge against the officer(s).
MandateThe mandate of the SIU is to maintain confidence in Ontario’s police services by assuring the public that police actions resulting in serious injury, death, or allegations of sexual assault are subjected to rigorous, independent investigations. Incidents which fall within this mandate must be reported to the SIU by the police service involved and/or may be reported by the complainant or any other person.
The objective of every SIU investigation is to determine whether there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the police. It is not to determine whether the involved officer(s) may have committed some lesser offence, such as the breach of a provincial law or professional misconduct under the Code of Conduct of police officers.
JurisdictionThe SIU investigates incidents across Ontario, and has jurisdiction over all municipal, regional and provincial police officers. This represents 53 police services and approximately 26,148 officers.
The Unit’s investigative jurisdiction is limited to those incidents where there is a serious injury (including sexual assault allegations) or death in cases involving the police. Complaints about police conduct that do not meet these criteria are referred to other agencies, such as the Office of the Independent Police Review Director or an appropriate police service.
The legislative framework for the SIU is set out in section 113 of the Police Services Act (PSA). Prior to the formation of the SIU, police forces investigated themselves, or in some instances, another police force was assigned to conduct the investigation. The public came to believe that such internal investigations lacked the necessary objectivity required of policing. Section 113 of the PSA resulted from the 1989 Task Force on Race Relations and Policing Report.
Following years of criticism and tension between the SIU and the police, the PSA was revisited once more to address issues of cooperation. The Consultation Report of the Honourable George W. Adams, Q.C. to the Attorney General and Solicitor General Concerning Police Cooperation with the Special Investigations Unit made 25 recommendations to make the SIU more effective and address SIU and police cooperation. The most significant of these involved an increase in the SIU’s funding commensurate with its mandate and the enactment of a legal framework to clearly set out the responsibilities and duties of police officers during SIU investigations. Such a regulation - Ontario Regulation 267/10 under the PSA (formerly Ontario Regulation 673/98) – first came into effect on January 1, 1999.