Fourth Annual Report by the Witness Protection Program Advisory Committee
This is the fourth report from the federal Witness Protection Program Advisory Committee to be presented, per its terms of reference, to the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The Committee was created to have independent subject matter experts provide advice on pertinent issues. The Committee's role is to advise the Commissioner, and by extension, Program personnel, on matters related to the effective and efficient administration of the federal Witness Protection Program.
Since the Committee's inception, the Program has made a number of significant changes to its structure and operations which continue to contribute to the Program's execution of its mandate today. Three main pillars guided these changes: a focus on protectees, program independence from investigations, and adhesion to program standards.
This report acknowledges the Program's progress on a number of initiatives undertaken, such as building its resource capacity, reviewing and updating policies and procedures, completing part of its research plan, and conducting operations with a lens to ensure focus on protectees. The report also provides recommendations to continue the Program's progress towards its three pillars. Notably, the Committee has recommended the following:
- Staffing initiatives should continue to be pursued to minimize overtime and stabilize workloads
- Carefully consider occupational wellness among Program staff due to the stressful nature of the workplace and the rate of change
- Opportunities should be developed to allow the Program to communicate its presence and its role to external communities
- A careful and enforced delineation of roles between Witness Support and Witness Protection
- Continue to develop partnerships with key external domestic and international partners
- Give thought to an all-encompassing definition of a "protectee" and what it means to focus on their needs
- Obtain legal advice on the relationship between various forms of protection and between these types of protection
- Consider the impact of family law in relation to the Witness Protection Program Act and work to address the gap in services that might arise from family law commitments
- Examine the intercultural and gender-related contexts of protectees to ensure a more diverse approach to protection and assessment
- Continue to pursue Program independence from investigations
- Adapt to the changing nature of the Program's disclosure obligations
- Continue to advance the Program's acquisition and use of innovative tools to contribute to increased efficiency and effectiveness
Even if challenges remain the Committee commends the Program on its dedication in implementing its advice and executing a world-class program. The Committee looks forward to continuing to provide guidance and advice to the Program in the future.
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