|Volume 1 - Resource Management
Chapter 16 - Enforcement
Policy 16.6 - Investigations
Effective Date: 13-April-2005
This policy describes the process for and documentation of investigations resulting from contraventions of the Acts.
The policy applies to all Ministry of Forests Operations Division staff who perform a compliance and enforcement function.
This policy rescinds and replaces Ministry policy 16.6 dated June 18, 1999.
To provide consistency, professional practices, and timeliness in the investigation, recording and resolution of suspected contraventions.
"Acts" means the Forest Act, the Wildfire Act, the Forest Practices Code Act, the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Range Act, the Waste Management Act and their Regulations.
"CIMS" means the Compliance Information Management System.
"ERA" means Enforcement Action, Administrative Review and Appeals System.
"Inspection" means an ad hoc or planned inspection by a person performing a C&E function, a person from another government agency, or a Ministry staff person from a program other than the C&E program.
"lead investigator" means the person assigned to lead any investigation by a District Compliance Leader, Regional Compliance Leader, Regional Compliance and Enforcement Manager, Compliance and Enforcement Supervisor, and or Fire Center Compliance and Enforcement Leader.
"responsible manager" means a District Compliance Leader, Regional Compliance Leader, Regional Compliance and Enforcement Manager, Compliance and Enforcement Supervisor, and or Fire Center Compliance and Enforcement Leader.
"SCS" means the scaling administration system.
It is Ministry policy that:
All Ministry personnel who observe actual or suspected contraventions of any provincial or federal legislation during the course of their duties will immediately report the details of the incident in writing to those staff within their responsibility center who have compliance [C&E] responsibilities.
At the time of discovery, all Ministry personnel will document the scene to the best of their ability.
Where it is determined that a contravention may have occurred, the "prosecution test process" outlined within Ministry Policy 16.19 Prosecutions will be considered and applied where applicable, and if applied will be recorded on the investigation file.
All investigations will include:
Where it is reasonable to make a determination of potential responsibility for any alleged contravention, the responsible person/s will be notified of the suspected contravention as soon as possible, other than where doing so may compromise the integrity of any investigation.
The responsible manager has the discretion to assign lead investigator status for any investigation based upon training, experience, and knowledge of the legislation.
A lead investigator has the discretion to cease investigating an incident where they consider an incident to be trifling and/or not in the public interest to do so. Any such decision must be recorded in ERA with a rationale.
When determining which compliance or enforcement option to utilize or whether or not to cease any investigation, those staff with C&E responsibilities will consider the public interest in the following manner:
Within this context, C&E program staff will also consider:
The responsible manager may apply the above public interest test and may focus C&E resources on one or more investigations. Where this means delaying or closing any file based upon other priorities or resourcing, or selecting a compliance or enforcement option for the same reason, the decision and rationale will be documented and recorded by the responsible manager on the file and in ERA.
Where an investigation proceeds to an Opportunity to be Heard [OTBH], the lead investigator is responsible for preparing an Investigation Summary package/ OTBH binder for submission to a DDM.
Prior to the scheduling of any OTBH, a responsible manager will review the investigation summary/ OTBH binder and may advise that further investigation is necessary, or that the elements of the contravention are not supported by the evidence and that the investigation summary will not go forward for a determination.
Once any OTBH has been scheduled, the lead investigator will make a reasonable effort to contract the person responsible and attempt to come to an Agreed Statement of Fact for presentation to the DDM at the OTBH.
Timeliness of Investigations
The lead investigator will try to complete investigations within 6 months, and, subject to events beyond their control, will complete investigations within 1 year of the date of discovery. This 1 year timeline does not include the scheduling and conduct of any OTBH.
A responsible manager may reassign investigative resources where the investigation is not proceeding in a timely manner.
All staff with C&E responsibilities are accountable for applying the standards, criteria, and expectations within the inter-Agency Enforcement Agreement, and the C&E/Protection and C&E/Revenue Roles and Responsibilities Matrices.
All incidents where there appear to be Criminal Code [Canada] offences will be brought to the attention of the RCMP. The RCMP and the responsible manager will consult and agree on lead agency status in any forestry-related investigation.
All incidents where there appears to be non-compliance with any statute that may come under the jurisdiction of any other federal or provincial agency [e.g. the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Competition Bureau or BC Parks] will be documented and the appropriate agency will be notified in a timely manner.
Recording of Investigations
All compliance actions will be recorded in CIMS and or ERA as the systems protocols require.
All government non-compliance will be recorded in the CIMS Ledger.
All enforcement actions will be recorded in ERA.
All suspected contraventions identified as a result of a scale site and timber scaling inspections will be recorded in ERA and SCS.
Where an incident was brought to the attention of the Ministry by another agency or the general public, the lead investigator is responsible for keeping the reporting party appraised of the status of the investigation within the constraints of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Privacy Act [Canada].
All alleged contraventions brought forward by the public will be recorded; inspections will be recorded in CIMS, and where applicable public complaints that result in investigations will be entered into ERA.
Physical Case Files
Physical case files will be opened and maintained where:
Physical case files will be maintained in a secure location. Physical evidence not suitable for a file will be maintained in a secure location.
All case files and physical evidence will be managed pursuant to the Ministry of Forests Records Management Standards and Procedures Manual.