2014 PPSC Survey of Investigative Agencies: Survey Results for Regulatory Agencies
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) was created in December 2006, when the Director of Public Prosecutions Act came into force. It replaces the former Federal Prosecution Service, which was part of the Department of Justice Canada. The Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for prosecuting offences under federal jurisdiction, and for providing prosecution-related legal advice to law enforcement agencies over the course of investigations that may lead to such prosecutions. As such, the PPSC works with investigative agencies across the provinces and territories. These include the RCMP, provincial and municipal police services, and regulatory agencies – the enforcement arms of federal departments and agencies.
To be effective and efficient as a national prosecution service, the PPSC must work closely with police and federal regulatory agencies in both the provinces and territories while respecting the independence of these agencies and maintaining its own.
Working collaboratively with investigative agencies is one of the PPSC’s ongoing organizational priorities. As part of its plans to meet this priority, the PPSC made a commitment to follow up on its 2008 survey of investigative agenciesFootnote 1 by seeking updated feedback from its partners.
1.1 Purpose and Scope of the Survey
The purpose of the 2014 Survey of Investigative Agencies was to obtain input regarding the PPSC’s legal advice and other prosecution-related activities from the police services and regulatory agencies that initiate most of the cases that the PPSC prosecutes. Its objectives were three-fold:
- to describe the possible impacts and results of these activities;
- to identify the factors that can contribute to more or less effective and efficient operational practices; and
- to identify strategies to strengthen the working relationship between the PPSC and investigative agencies.
The survey was national in scope. It was intended for investigators at all levels, and provided an opportunity for them to identify best practices or concerns based on their experiences. The survey questionnaire for regulatory agency members focused on PPSC legal advice and support, PPSC training activities and PPSC service commitments.
Survey respondents were asked to provide quantitative information on the nature and frequency of the various forms of legal advice and training that they had received over the year preceding the survey, as well as their awareness of PPSC service standards. They were also asked to rate the usefulness of that advice and training, and the extent to which the PPSC’s service standards were known and being met. Finally, survey respondents were invited to identify the strengths of PPSC prosecution-related activities and possible strategies for improvement, and to provide comments or questions on the service standards or their implementation.
The analysis of respondent ratings of PPSC prosecution-related activities is intended to identify any trends in the nature, frequency or results of those activities.Footnote 2 It is important to note that the purpose of the quantitative analysis was not to rate the performance of PPSC prosecutors as a group, or to compare the performance of prosecutors in various regional offices. In fact, this would not have been possible given the non-representative nature of the sample. Hence, the data must be considered as exploratory and should not be considered to be representative of the police services concerned.
Respondent comments on PPSC prosecution-related activities varied in length, from a single word or sentence to a few paragraphs. All comments were analyzed to identify the range of themes, best practices and concerns that were raised, as well as any factors that may affect the results of PPSC activities. The purpose of the qualitative analysis was not to account for the frequency of various comments, or to ascertain whether the respondents’ interpretation or portrayal of events is
“true”. In any case, the data generated by the survey would not have allowed us to make that determination. Rather, the purpose of the analysis was to understand the array of factors that can contribute to more or less positive impacts and results. Thus, frequent comments do not necessarily have any more inherent value, in terms of generating knowledge or understanding, than infrequent or even unique ones.
As will be shown, respondent views on the impacts and results of PPSC prosecution-related activities can be influenced by a range of factors, including respondents’ beliefs regarding the seriousness of the offences being enforced and the legal responses that are called for, their understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of investigators and prosecutors in the criminal justice process and, most importantly, the nature and frequency of their interactions with PPSC staff counsel and agents.
The key findings for the 2014 survey are presented in two separate reports: the present report for regulatory agencies, and another for police services.
2.0 Regulatory Agency Respondents
A link to the electronic survey questionnaire was distributed by e-mail to members of enforcement and investigation units within the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the Competition Bureau (CB), Elections Canada (EL), Environment Canada (EC), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (FO), Employment and Skills Development Canada (EDSC) and the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (SB).
The survey sample is comprised of 498 respondents. The distribution of respondents and response rates by agency are outlined in Table 1.
|Regulatory Agency||#/% of Survey RespondentsFootnote 3||#/% of Survey Recipients||Response Rate|
Response rates exceeded 50% in all regulatory agencies except FO (33%), EL (40%) and EC (44%). A total of 65% of all regulatory agency respondents were affiliated with FO (39%) or EC (26%).
All quantitative findings on respondent characteristics and rankings are presented in Table 2, which is annexed to this report.
Close to half (45%) of all regulatory agency respondents had worked in their agency for more than 10 years, compared to 62% of CRA respondents, but only 27% of CBSA respondents and 29% of EC respondents. In addition, more than three quarters (77%) of all regulatory agency respondents were investigators.
3.0 Regulatory Prosecutions
Most (81%) regulatory agency respondents reported that they had worked on regulatory investigations or prosecutions involving the PPSC over the 12 months preceding the survey, compared to 96% of CB respondentsFootnote 4.
However, only 25% of all respondents had been involved in regulatory investigations or prosecutions on a bi-weekly or weekly basis, compared to 66% of CB. Most (73%) respondents had been involved in regulatory investigations or prosecutions no more than monthly over the 12 months preceding the survey, compared to 86% of FO respondents; however, only 33% of CB fell into this category.
3.1 Legal Advice and Support
3.1.1 Frequency of Advice and Support
Depending on the type of support received, between 35% and 68% of all regulatory agency respondents reported that they had sometimes or often received support from the PPSC over the 12 months preceding the survey.
- Pre- and post-charge advice was the most frequent type of support received by regulatory agency respondents overall, with 68% reporting that they had sometimes or often received such support over the last 12 months. Comparatively more CRA respondents (81%) fell into this category.
- Cooperation in the preparation of disclosure materials was the second most frequent type of support received by regulatory agency respondents overall, with 59% reporting that they had sometimes or often received such support over the last 12 months. Again, comparatively more CRA respondents (77%) fell into this category.
- Preparation of witnesses for court, and guidance in the preparation of search warrants were the least frequently received forms of support, with 35% and 40% of all regulatory agency respondents respectively reporting that they had never or rarely received such support. However, comparatively more EC (60%) reported that they had received guidance in the preparation of search warrants.
3.1.2 Usefulness of Advice and Support
Depending on the type of support received, between 60% and 72% of all regulatory agency respondents reported that the support was useful or very useful.
- Pre- and post-charge advice was the most highly rated form of support, with 72% of all regulatory agency respondents rating it as useful or very useful. In comparison, 94% of CRA respondents, but only 51% of CB respondents rated it as such.
- Cooperation in the preparation of disclosure materials was a close second, with 68% of all regulatory agency respondents rating it as useful or very useful. In comparison, only 50% of CB respondents rated it as such.
- Guidance in the preparation of search warrants was identically ranked, with 68% of all regulatory agency respondents rating it as useful or very useful. In comparison, only 50% of CB respondents rated it as such.
- Preparation of witnesses for court was rated as useful or very useful by 60% of all regulatory agency respondents. In comparison, 76% of CRA respondents, but only 36% of CB respondents, rated it as such.
3.2 Optimal Regulatory Prosecution-Related Activities
In addition to responding to closed-ended questions on the nature, frequency and results of PPSC prosecution-related activities, regulatory agency members were asked to identify the strengths of these activities and possible strategies for improvement. Their comments revealed a striking level of consistency in the attributes of prosecutorial practices that respondents viewed as optimal by their presence, and as problematic by their absence. Furthermore, the following attributes hold true across regulatory agencies and jurisdictions, and are similar to those that emerged from the PPSC’s 2008 survey of investigative agencies:
- timely and consistent legal advice and support;
- timely and consistent communication on operational requirements;
- timely charge review processes;
- consultation prior to staying/withdrawing charges or concluding plea agreements; and
3.2.1 Timely and Consistent Legal Advice and Support
Regulatory agency respondents agreed that the provision of legal advice and support can contribute to more optimal investigative practices and the avoidance of legal errors that can compromise an investigation or prosecution. However, the impacts of these services varied based on the competencies of particular PPSC prosecutorsFootnote 5.
- According to an EC respondent, such advice and support
“has resulted in very good quality investigations and reports to Crown”. Similarly, an EDSC respondent noted that PPSC support in drafting or reviewing search warrants and production orders, , producing reports to Crown counsel (RTCCs) or court briefs (CBs) and drafting charges can ensure that
“the evidence is solid and properly presented ”.
- Respondent comments also demonstrate that the benefits of case-specific legal advice and support can be cumulative, in that they can enhance investigators’ overall understanding of the legal issues to be considered as their files unfold. As noted by respondents, this can result in greater efficiencies for both their own organizations and the PPSC, and cost savings for the public.
- However, while many respondents lauded the competencies of the prosecutors with whom they had dealt, others found them to be lacking, variously citing differences among and between staff counsel and agents, senior and junior personnel, as well as subject matter experts and generalists. As a result, respondents repeatedly noted that the dedication of a specialized or senior prosecutor or team of prosecutors to agency-specific files enhances the quality and consistency of the legal advice and support that they can provide. Hence, an EC respondent felt that the creation of such a team in hisFootnote 6 area would result in significant time savings:
“PPSC needs a specific a team with an environmental background that understands the work that is done at EC. This would fast track everything. Eighty per cent of the time spent with PPSC is explaining science, sampling and our regulations in meetings.”
- Furthermore, respondents in all regulatory agencies repeatedly highlighted the benefits of early PPSC involvement, particularly in complex regulatory files. As explained by a FO respondent,
“Having a PPSC Senior Crown attached to a major investigation from a very early point to provide guidance along the way… saves a huge amount of effort and time in the long term.”
- Respondent comments indicate that early access to legal advice and support can be precluded by their own agency or the PPSC. Thus, an EDSC respondent deplored that members of his office were not allowed consult with PPSC counsel prior to submitting a complete report to his agency’s headquarters office. Similarly, a CBSA respondent recounted that local agents had told him that
“they will not provide pre-charge advice since they cannot bill for their time unless a charge has been laid.”Footnote 7
- Comments also indicate possible variations in the types of legal support that may be offered by prosecutors across the country. As noted by a CRA respondent, such variations
“make it difficult to know what we can expect from PPSC, and we need to clarify what tasks they will do on a case by case basis. Standardizing the practices across Canada would greatly help us.”
- Interestingly, an EDSC respondent expressed concern that premature PPSC involvement could compromise an investigation if it is not provided at an appropriate juncture:
“We are very aware that initiating this type of conversation before the investigation is complete can have an impact on the admissibility of evidence collected. This is an ongoing challenge for us at EDSC.”
3.2.2 Timely and Consistent Communication on Operational Requirements
Although the comments of regulatory agency respondents clearly demonstrate the benefits of PPSC prosecutors’ legal advice and support, comments also show that such knowledge and advice are not sufficient. Ongoing and respectful communication are equally important, not only in terms of promoting optimal investigative practices, but also in terms of enhancing investigators’ and prosecutors’ understanding of their respective imperatives and challenges.
- Respondent comments highlight the benefits of PPSC prosecutors’ approachability and availability, and of ongoing communication between investigators and prosecutors on the status of regulatory files. According to a CBSA respondent,
“Ongoing communication with investigators over the course of the file and keeping a written record of decisions has been a best practice initiated by the Economic Prosecutions Unit at the PPSC (regional office). This has greatly assisted CBSA investigators in that there are no misunderstandings as to how the RTCC should be framed and how the evidence will be presented.”
- In addition, respondent comments illustrate the concrete benefits of clear and consistent direction and guidelines on matters of a more general or technical nature. For example, respondents who described differing requirements among the various PPSC prosecutors with whom they had dealt called for more guidance on issues such as the format to be used in drafting production orders, search warrants, RTCCs, charges and court briefs, as well as expectations with respect to disclosure and the presentation of evidenceFootnote 8. In a similar vein, a FO respondent suggested that the PPSC share a data base for wording on aboriginal charges in order to achieve greater efficiencies.”
- By extension, respondents repeatedly described the mutual benefits of regular meetings between investigators and PPSC prosecutors to, for example, brief new officers, review regulatory amendments or changes, clarify operational guidelines, discuss problems and identify solutions. For instance, a CBSA respondent suggested that PPSC prosecutors meet with investigators to discuss
“the PPSC document on disclosure… so that investigators can ask questions and all parties can be comfortable in the fact that what is requested is being provided on a consistent basis.”
- Respondent descriptions of collaborative, respectful, effective and mutually beneficial working relationships between investigators and PPSC prosecutors abound. To illustrate, a CBSA member noted that PPSC counsel in his city had been readily available to provide advice and technical support, both during and after regular business hours and, in his terms,
“have displayed a significant expertise, understanding, and genuine interest in our agency’s legislation and files, leading to a successful working relationship and significant results in the protection of program integrity and public safety interests.”
- However, there were also descriptions of more adversarial and ineffective working relationships. Concerned respondents reported being yelled at, spoken down to or ridiculed by some of the PPSC prosecutors with whom they had dealt. Although reports of such behavior are infrequent, as noted by a CBSA respondent,
“This ruins the work/trust relationship between both parties.”A CRA member who described the relationship between his agency and the PPSC in his area as needing
“fence mending and fence building”acknowledged that
“a more proactive and compassionate approach in voicing concerns is required on the part of both organizations”.
3.2.3 Timely Pre- and Post-charge Review Processes
Pre-charge screening or
“charge approval” occurs in Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia. In these jurisdictions, charges can be laid only if they are approved by Crown counsel beforehand. Although pre-charge screening is not required in other jurisdictions, charges are subject to review after they have been laid. EC and FO respondents highlighted the importance of timely review processes, namely to maintain the deterrent effect of charges.
- Respondents noted that extensive delays in reviewing charges can reduce their effectiveness as a regulatory tool and limit possible enforcement measures. As noted by an EC respondent,
“If there is little or no interest in pursuing a file, PPSC should inform the investigator as soon as they can so that the investigator can either take a lesser form of enforcement action or close the file with no further action.”
- FO respondents repeatedly spoke of delays of one to two years or more in the Aboriginal charge approval process, which some attributed to the fact that there is only one PPSC counsel serving their area. In addition to violating Aboriginal charge approval policy requirements, it was noted that such lengthy delays have created a significant backlog which could lead some investigators to question the value of pursuing Aboriginal cases.
- Further, a FO respondent noted that delays in charge review processes can limit his agency’s ability to obtain the forfeiture of seized items, which must be authorized by the courts within 90 days (or up to a year if an extension is granted). If the decision to lay a charge is not received in time, seized items of considerable monetary value may have to be returned. Hence, a FO respondent suggested that major files with broader implications should be treated on a priority basis.
3.2.4 Consultation Prior to Staying/Withdrawing Charges or Concluding Plea Agreements
Pre-charge screening or
“charge approval” occurs in Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia. In these jurisdictions, charges can be laid only if they are approved by Crown counsel beforehand. Although pre-charge screening is not required in other jurisdictions, charges are subject to review after they have been laid. PPSC counsel must consider two issues when deciding to prosecute or not to prosecute a charge: whether the evidence is sufficient to justify the initiation or continuation of proceedings, and if it is, whether a prosecution best serves the public interest. Further, the evidential standard must continue to be met during the entirety of the proceedings – from the receipt of the investigative report to the exhaustion of all appeals. Respondent comments show that the importance of providing notice to investigators when charges are withdrawn or stayed cannot be understated.
- Failure to provide such notice, however infrequent, is likely to have a negative impact on the quality of the working relationship between investigators and PPSC prosecutors. As a FO manager recounted,
“It really upsets investigators who have devoted significant time to a file to learn it has been dropped after the fact. This is a rare event but things boil over when it occurs. It’s a matter of mutual respect.”
- Again, respondents repeatedly called for more communication between investigators and prosecutors prior to determining the approach to be taken in a specific case, particularly with respect to withdrawing charges. It was felt that investigators would have much to contribute given their field experience. As explained by an EC respondent,
“We would certainly like to be aware of the reasons and provide any feedback/input regarding the decision.”
- While acknowledging that all departments and agencies are operating under resource constraints, an EDSC respondent also emphasized that timely charge review is required so that investigative agencies can identify any additional resources (such as expert testimony) that will be required to successfully prosecute a case.
“Forceful” Prosecution Approach
In Canada, the prosecutor’s role is not to win convictions at any cost, but to put before the court all available, relevant, and admissible evidence necessary to enable the court to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused based on the merits of the case.Footnote 9 While some respondents felt that the prosecution approach taken in the cases that they had initiated was sufficiently forceful, others criticized a perceived reliance on plea agreements which, in turn, was perceived as resulting in lesser charges and more lenient sentences.
- Some respondents felt that some of the PPSC prosecutors with whom they had dealt should better understand the need to prosecute, particularly in files where other enforcement avenues have been exhausted. An EC respondent, having observed differences in the approach taken by various PPSC offices, explained the importance of prosecutions as an enforcement tool, particularly when other enforcement options have been exhausted:
“Many (of our regional offices) are envious of our successful prosecutions (with PPSC) on various regulatory matters… Without successful prosecutions of these regulatory matters, our Act’s enforceability and ability to protect the environment would be diminished.”
- Hence, respondents repeatedly suggested that prosecutors should
“take more risks”,
“be more open to innovation and challenge instead of settling out of court”, and
“seek solutions when issues or roadblocks arise in a case”, with a goal of setting precedents that could benefit all agencies.
- Interestingly, only one respondent lauded the PPSC’s out of court settlements, viewing such settlements as a positive outcome. This EDSC respondent spoke of the effectiveness of the PPSC’s early resolution activities in Labour Program cases, noting that it has resulted in at least 80% of cases being settled without going to court.
3.3 Reliance on Legal Agents
As of March 31, 2016, the PPSC had 970 employees, 488 of whom were lawyers. In addition to staff prosecutors, the PPSC retained the services of 186 private-sector law firms, or 409 individually appointed lawyers, as standing agents. The PPSC uses legal agents in areas where it does not have a regional office or where it is impracticable or otherwise not cost-effective to handle cases with staff counsel.
The survey questionnaire did not distinguish between the services provided by staff prosecutors and those provided by legal agents. Distinctions between the two groups were made by respondents themselves. While some regulatory agency respondents were complimentary of the prosecution-related activities performed by legal agents, others – mostly from the CBSA and FO – were more critical, depending on the agents with whom they had dealt.
- Interestingly, some respondents argued that the agents in their area were more willing to
“take cases to court”than staff counsel, which can result in larger fines in one respondent’s view. A FO respondent attributed such differences to the fact that local agents have the advantage of
“knowledge of local fisheries and people”.
- Other respondents reported that the legal agents with whom they had dealt did not have the specialized knowledge required to handle their cases. Thus, a FO respondent argued that consideration should be given to assigning specialized prosecutors to all cases but those involving simple violations and tickets.
- Respondents suggested regular training to ensure that agents are up to date on the latest case law, as well as guidance and supervision for less experienced agents. In addition, a CBSA respondent who did not feel that the prosecution-related services provided by the agent in his area were effective suggested that the PPSC should solicit regular feedback on agent performance from regulatory agencies.”
4.0 Training Activities
4.1 Training Frequency and Topics
Only 26% of all regulatory agency respondents had participated in PPSC training activities over the 12 months preceding the survey, compared to 51% of CBSA and 44% of EC respondents; only 12% of FO and 14% of EDSC respondents fell into this category. None of the CB respondents reported that they had received training. Almost three quarters (71%) of training recipients had participated in only one training activity.
The most frequently reported training topics, in order of importance, were disclosure management (41%), the respective roles of investigators and prosecutors (36%), and the preparation of search warrants (30%)Footnote 10; only 4 training recipients reported that they had received training on wiretap authorizations / applications.
4.2 Trainer Knowledge and Training Results
Depending on the training topicFootnote 11, a total of 86% to 95% of training recipients reported that PPSC trainers were knowledgeable or very knowledgeable. Similarly, between 82% and 93% of training recipients reported that the training was useful or very useful in enhancing their understanding of the legal issues that can have an impact on their work.
Between 53% and 77% of training recipients ranked the degree to which the training had contributed to modifying their investigative practices as 3 or 4 on a four-point scale, with 1 being not at all, and 4 being very much soFootnote 12. Results for each of the training topic listed are as follows, in order of importance:
- preparation of search warrants: 76%
- preparation of Crown briefs: 69%
- acts and regulations: 63%
- respective roles of investigators and prosecutors: 62%
- disclosure management: 53%
4.3 Optimal Training Approaches
In addition to responding to closed-ended questions on training, regulatory agency respondents were asked to identify the strengths of PPSC training activities as well as possible strategies for improvement. Their comments highlight the concrete benefits of the PPSC training activities in which they had participated, both at an individual and an organizational level , as well as the training modalities that can maximize these benefits.
- Respondents reported that training had increased their knowledge and understanding of the PPSC’s mandate and activities, of the respective roles and responsibilities of investigators and prosecutors and, more generally, of
“what needs to be done for a prosecution to go smoothly”. In addition to building investigator confidence that they are
“doing the right thing”, it can contribute to more optimal investigative practices, and reduce the likelihood of legal errors that can compromise an investigation or prosecution.
- Respondents repeatedly concluded that training has or would generate efficiencies for both investigative agencies and the PPSC. For example, a FO respondent recalled that the training that the PPSC delivered to agency members in his area had led to the formulation of internal policies to provide direction to enforcement staff. Similarly, another FO respondent concluded that it had helped to streamline internal departmental prosecution processes, avoid unnecessary delays in court proceedings and made for better communication between officers and the PPSC.
- Respondents also noted that regulatory agencies are losing their experienced officers and no longer have the capacity to provide training themselves. Hence, any introductory training that the PPSC might provide was described as particularly important for junior officers. In the same vein, EC respondents requested written information on the legal issues surrounding investigative procedures, cautioning, warrants, evidence and informed consent, or newsletters to advise investigators of new court rulings or other factors that may affect how they should lead their investigations.
- Respondent comments indicate that the benefits of training can be enhanced when it is based on a solid understanding of their agencies’ mandates, offers opportunities for free and open discussion, includes case studies and examples, and provides resource materials and contacts. In this regard, a FO respondent suggested that materials should be adapted to regulatory enforcement activities:
“Most of our training is police specific and it can be hard to bridge the difference (between police and) fishery officer duties.”
- A number of regulatory agency respondents did not know that the PPSC was involved in training activities prior to completing the survey. Overall, respondents called for more regular training activities, and for more information on training opportunities. Although acknowledging that some of the responsibility for training is shared by his department, a FO respondent suggested that the PPSC might develop
“standard training package that would be delivered equally across all regions”.
- While such an endeavour may be beyond the PPSC’s current capacity, the following quote illustrates how ongoing communication and training can pay off in the long run, by enhancing investigator competencies and reducing their need for legal advice and support, to the mutual benefit of regulatory agencies and the PPSC:
“Q17 (of the survey) asks if we get assistance from PPSC on several functions. I had to answer no, but this is not because they would not provide assistance. Our office has performed these to a high standard over the last years and does not have to seek additional help from PPSC. We achieved this high standard by attending PPSC training sessions many years ago and by meeting with prosecutors during those years. If there was a new issue, we know the PPSC prosecutors would help as they have in the past.”
5.0 PPSC Service Standards
In June 2012, the PPSC implemented service standards that establish what police and federal investigative agencies may expect from PPSC prosecutors regarding matters such as the PPSC’s normal business hours, timelines for responding to phone calls or e-mails, requests for legal opinions, document reviews or training, and when they can expect to be consulted by the PPSC.
- Only 20% (n=95) of all regulatory agency respondents reported that they had been informed of the implementation of the standards; this percentage was lowest among EDSC (5%) and CB (9%) respondents.
- 63% of regulatory agency respondents who were aware of the standards reported that they had received written information from their agency; in addition, a total of 42% reported that they had received written information from the PPSC and/or had been told about the standards by a member of PPSC staffFootnote 13.
- 58% of regulatory agency respondents who were aware of the standards reported that they had reviewed them.
- Depending on the service standard in question, between 49% and 76% of all regulatory agency respondents reported that the standard was often or sometimes met. Results for each of the service standards explored are as follows:
“Responding to e-mails within three business days”was the most frequently met service standard overall, with a total of 76% of all regulatory agency respondents reporting that, in their experience, the standard was often or sometimes met; even more CRA (88%), CP (87%), CBSA (87%) respondents fell into this category.
“Responding to phone calls within one business day”was reported as being often or sometimes met by a total of 69% of all regulatory agency respondents; again, even more CBSA (82%) and CRA (88%) respondents fell into this category.
“Contacting the agency before staying, withdrawing or accepting a plea to a lesser charge in a significant case”was reported as being often or sometimes met by a total of 57% of all regulatory agency respondents; comparatively less CB (38%) fell into this category.
“Reviewing documents such as ITOs or affidavits for proposed charges within 15 business days”was reported as being often or sometimes met by a total of 54% of all regulatory agency respondents.
“Informing the agency if more time is required to review such documents”was reported as being often or sometimes met by a total of 49% of all regulatory agency respondents.
Respondent comments or questions on the service standards suggest that the PPSC’s ability to meet the standards may vary and be contingent, at least in part, on operational pressures faced by both the PPSC.
- Respondents made positive comments on PPSC prosecutors’ willingness and ability to adhere to the standards. A CBSA respondent went so far as to write that,
“The service provided to our office is exceptional and meets or exceeds all above standards.”
- However, there were also respondents who had experienced variations in the degree to which PPSC prosecutors were able to meet the service standards on a consistent and meaningful basis. As aptly noted by a CB respondent, meeting the response times specified in the standards does not necessarily mean that advice has been given or that a decision has been communicated. In the words of an EDSC respondent,
“The quality of the service also needs to be measured. Did the service achieve the appropriate outcome?”
- Respondents repeatedly noted that PPSC prosecutors are carrying heavy workloads, and that this can negatively affect their ability to adhere to the service standards. Hence, a CB respondent argued that,
“Service standards are relevant and appropriate depending on the caseload. If a prosecutor is handling double the typical caseload, some service standards will not be met.”While he also relayed his perception that the PPSC is understaffed and that prosecutors
“have a lot on their plates”, another CB respondent argued that the service standards nonetheless have raised expectations among investigators.”
- A number of respondents mentioned that they were not aware that the PPSC had adopted service standards prior to completing the survey. It was suggested that the PPSC might better publicize the standards to both agency investigators and managers so that they may
“better understand what to expect from the PPSC.”It was also suggested that the following issues should be clarified:
- whether the standards apply to agents;
“response”means an acknowledgement of receipt of a question, or a substantive response or answer to the question; and
- the measures that an investigator or regulatory agency can take when it is perceived that a service standard has not been met.
6.1 Moving Forward
A central goal of the 2014 survey of investigative agencies was to identify strategies to promote more effective working relationships between the PPSC and investigative agencies. The analysis of the survey results points to four primary strategies for solidifying the relationship:
- More liaison and training at front-line/management levels
- More consultation prior to staying/withdrawing charges or concluding plea agreements
- Enhanced support in disclosure preparation
- Clarification and/or review of some PPSC service standards
All of these strategies involve more communication. As repeatedly illustrated by respondent comments, the benefits of communication for both IAs and PPSC include more optimal investigative and prosecutorial practices,
“higher quality products”,
“fewer challenges at trial”,
“savings in time and valuable resources” and, ultimately, more collaborative working relationships.
A working group composed of Chief Federal Prosecutors and Headquarters staff has developed a Management Response and Action Plan (MRAP) which sets out PPSC policy and service commitments and concrete actions that both prosecutors and investigators can take to foster more collaborative working relationships. The plan has been endorsed by senior management and will be implemented over the course of FY 2016-17.
|Regulatory Agency Respondents||All||CB||CBSA||CRA||EC||El||EDSC||FO||SB|
|% / # by regulatory agency (RA)||100%
|% with more than ten years at RA||45%||41%||27%||62%||29%||0%||39%||62%||0%|
|% commenting as investigator||77%||76%||88%||60%||72%||100%||54%||63%||75%|
|% commenting as manager of investigators||28%Footnote 14||18%||9%||40%||22%||0%||19%||29%||25%|
|Regulatory Investigations or Prosecutions|
|% involved in regulatory invest/prosec. in last twelve months||81%||96%||87%||81%||79%||100%||74%||75%||100%|
|% involved in regulatory invest/prosec. weekly/bi-weekly||25%||66%||27%||33%||22%||33%||6%||14%||67%|
|% involved in regulatory invest/prosec. monthly or less||73%||33%||72%||67%||78%||66%||94%||86%||33%|
|% who had sometimes or often received legal advice or support over past twelve months|
|Cooperation in preparation of disclosure materials||59%||56%||53%||77%||65%||50%||65%||55%||67%|
|Guidance in preparation of search warrants||40%||39%||40%||40%||60%||25%||24%||32%||0%|
|Preparation of witnesses for court||35%||27%||33%||45%||36%||50%||41%||35%||67%|
|% who rated support as usefulor very useful|
|Pre/post charge advice||72%||51%||71%||94%||80%||100%||53%||71%||100%|
|Cooperation in preparation of disclosure materials||68%||50%||70%||78%||72%||100%||80%||66%||50%|
|Guidance in preparation of search warrants||68%||50%||69%||72%||76%||0%||40%||67%||50%|
|Preparation of witnesses for court||60%||36%||60%||76%||67%||100%||88%||56%||100%|
|% who received training||26%||0%||51%||24%||44%||25%||14%||12%||33%|
|% informed of service standards||20%||9%||14%||12%||21%||0%||5%||28%||0%|
|% reporting that service standard was often or sometimes met|
|Responding to e-mails within three business days||76%||87%||87%||88%||76%||67%||66%||69%||67%|
|Responding to calls within one business day||70%||75%||82%||88%||68%||33%||67%||62%||67%|
|Contacting agency before stay/withdrawal/plea||57%||38%||54%||56%||58%||33%||62%||62%||66%|
|Reviewing documents within fifteen business days||54%||43%||53%||60%||61%||33%||57%||52%||0%|
|Informing agency if more time needed to review documents||49%||38%||40%||60%||54%||33%||62%||49%||33%|
- Date modified: