Vancouver Police Board News

Statement from Vancouver Police Board regarding the approval of a revised handcuffing policy

October 21, 2021
Board Vice-Chair and spokesperson, Ms. Faye Wightman:

At today’s Vancouver Police Board (Board) meeting, the Board approved a revised Use of Handcuffs policy.

The Board received two service or policy complaints (one in 2020, one in 2021) related to the use of handcuffing and detention. In response, the Board initiated an extensive internal review of the legal authorities and existing policy surrounding the use of restraint devices, resulting in a revised policy. In June of 2021, the Board ordered an independent external review of the VPD’s revised Use of Handcuffs policy, to ensure the revisions appropriately address concerns regarding the application of force by the use of handcuffs, as well as any cultural or systemic issues or factors that may be involved. This particular review is now complete, and has been considered in the approval of the interim policy.

This policy is however interim, and is being approved as provisional. A final policy will only be approved pending any recommendations stemming from the outcome of a conduct investigation regarding the Bank of Montreal (BMO) incident currently underway by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC)), and from the outcome of the BC Human Rights Tribunal case regarding the same incident.

On June 30, the Board resolved to not oppose the Union of BC Indian Chiefs application to intervene in Maxwell Johnson’s BC Human rights case against the Board and the VPD. The Board is in agreement that Indigenous voices and perspectives, in particular those of the Heiltsuk First Nation, must be heard and thoroughly considered prior to finalizing the policy.

Some of the notable revisions in the updated policy include the following:

  • It specifies that officers must be able to articulate the specific circumstance necessitating the use of handcuffs, relevant considerations being the objectively reasonable need to:
    – Protect the member(s), the public, or the person from harm;
    – Prevent the person from attempting to leave;
    – Locate and preserve evidence related to the reason for the person’s arrest; or,
    – Where the law permits, facilitate the search of a detained or apprehended person.
  • It provides direction on documentation and the safe application of handcuffs;
  • It recognizes that a child under the apparent age of 12 ought not be handcuffed except in specific and compelling circumstances;
  • It acknowledges the impact the use of force of applying handcuffs might have upon an individual;
  • It entrenches an officer’s ability to exercise discretion; and
  • It provides for a notification process for events that ought to be brought to the attention of supervisor ranks.

More information on the VPD’s development of the policy, and the external review can be found here: Report #2110V05: VPD Use of Handcuffs Policy.

More information on the Board and VPD’s response to the BMO service or policy complaint, including the review of the VPD’s Indigenous cultural competency training, can be found here: Report #2110C03 service or policy report back.

The Board acknowledges that work in reviewing and updating VPD training is ongoing, and that this must continue to evolve and adapt to best meet the needs of the community. The Board is committed to this ongoing work, and to continuing to engage with and inform the people of Vancouver as it delivers on these important commitments.

Categories: Board Statements


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