Policy against police lying in court a welcome first step

A new policy that will require Crown attorneys to report cases where they believe police officers have lied under oath is a positive first step in recognizing a problem exists, says Toronto criminal lawyer Roots Gadhia.

“Perhaps in time officers and Crowns alike will understand that if police officers stick to the rules that exist for all of us, the probability of convictions are significantly more likely,” says Gadhia.

The new guidelines come after a Toronto Star investigation earlier this year that found more than 100 cases of police deception in Ontario and across the country, the newspaper reports. Read Toronto Star

The Star also found that Ontario, like most provinces, had no formal mechanism to investigate allegations of police lying in court, the report says.

“I know that many of my colleagues are not impressed and see it as a way of appeasing the public,” says Gadhia.

“From a defence perspective, we see officers who are prepared to lie regularly, cut corners and do whatever necessary for the end to justify the means,” she says. “Unfortunately too many officers get away with this behaviour, where Crowns turn a blind eye or judges couch their disapproval in words that fail to do this type of behaviour justice.”

Ontario’s chief prosecutor James Cornish recently completed a report on the issue and the Star was told the new policy is set to take effect before the year’s end, the report states.

“Although many at the defence bar question if Crowns will report officers with whom they work closely and are hesitant to applaud this decision, I see it as a first step in recognizing a problem does exist,” says Gadhia.

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