Fifth annual report by the Witness Protection Program Advisory Committee

Executive summary

This is the fifth report of the Witness Protection Program Advisory Committee (WPAC) presented, per the terms of reference, to the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The RCMP created the WPAC in 2013 as a mechanism to provide independent, expert advice on the range of complex issues inherent in administering the Program. The Committee structures this advice around three main pillars: a focus on protectees, Program independence from investigations, and adhesion to program standards. Committee members are not privy to information that would reveal the identity or location of any protectees.

The Committee commends the RCMP's progress in implementing significant structural and operational changes. Most notably, updating the array of policies and procedures, engaging a fulltime researcher and developing a Research Strategy, undertaking analysis of data to support decision making, establishing an independent intelligence capability, delivering enhanced services to protectees, and hiring additional staff to ensure the necessary capacity to deliver on both expanded and specialized requirements.

The Committee recommends the Program continue to advance on the following:

  • designing Program decision-making around 'the protection continuum
  • collaborating with Public Safety Canada, provincial witness protection programs, and other key stakeholders in creating national witness protection standard
  • supporting ongoing collaboration between the RCMP's and Public Safety's Legal Services in the drafting of regulations, specifically relating to the administration of witness protection disclosure materials and testimony
  • exploring opportunities to sensitize Canadian Family Courts on the impact on protectees of processes and decisions, bearing in mind the best interests of children in the Program
  • advancing the Research Strategy by leveraging external research where possible, including referrals from Committee members who have extensive networks in a range of disciplines

Despite the inherent challenges of witness protection, the Committee praises the RCMP and the Program in implementing many improvements and in executing a world-class program. The Committee looks forward to continued engagement with the RCMP on key challenges.

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