Earlier this year, police announced that a drug exhibit audit would be conducted after the Serious Incident Response Team charged a Halifax Regional Police officer with theft, breach of trust and obstruction of justice, a matter that remains within the purview of the courts. At the same time this matter was originally referred to SiRT in 2015, the leaders of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division (comprised of investigators with both Halifax Regional Police and Halifax District RCMP) also acted quickly to initiate a drug exhibit audit to examine drug exhibits with respect to policy, procedure, infrastructure and personnel.
HRP’s Oversight & Risk Management Unit conducted the drug exhibit audit between mid-June and November 2015. The audit was reviewed by management in May 2016, which resulted in a request for further direction, follow-up and clarification with respect to some of the findings. We’re now in a position to share the findings of the Drug Exhibit Audit with media and our community.
The key observations are:
- Continuity: Evidence Continuity Reports are often missing important details and are rarely accurate.
- Inaccurate recording of exhibit location – the audit strived to determine if an exhibit was in the location where it was supposed to be based on Versadex, our records management system. Following are the results:
- Drug Vault 1: 90% of the exhibits in the sample (66 of 73) weren’t located where they were supposed to be during the initial audit in 2015; after a further review in May 2016, additional exhibits were located. However, 52% of the original sample (38 of 73) couldn’t be located.
- Drug Vault 2: 24% of the exhibits in the sample (18 of 75) weren’t located where they were supposed to be during the initial audit in 2015; after a further review in May 2016, additional exhibits were located. However, 12% of the original sample (9 of 75) couldn’t be located.
- Money Vault: 55% of the exhibits in the sample (34 of 62 exhibits) weren’t located where they were supposed to be during the initial audit in 2015; after a further review in May 2016, additional exhibits were located. However, 32% of the original sample (20 of 62) couldn’t be located.
- Currency: Currency, for the most part, is recorded inaccurately/inconsistently in Versadex Evidence Continuity.
- Policies: Policy is not being followed and needs to be reviewed and updated as necessary.
- Training: Training for Drug Unit members needs to be standardized.
- Supervision: It’s the opinion of Sergeants in the Drug Unit that they don’t have adequate time to devote to exhibits.
- Infrastructure: Drug vaults need to be modernized to address health and safety concerns.
Senior officers of both HRP and RCMP have reviewed the recommendations of the audit. We’re prioritizing the 34 recommendations and are developing a road map which will be a multi-year endeavour. Our priorities include finding the missing and/or incorrectly logged exhibits, updating policy and creating/delivering training related to drug exhibits to protect both our officers and our organization. It’s important to note that we haven’t had a court case affected due to exhibits that couldn’t be located.
Further, our investigators in the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division are highly competent at investigating and solving crimes, including drug files. We also trust our officers to do the job they are assigned to do and maintain the values and integrity of the oath they swore to uphold.
We’re committed to becoming better and stronger as a result of this auditing process and the corresponding road map.
Link to Drug Exhibit Audit