Internal audit finds drug, money evidence missing from Halifax police storage
An internal audit of drug evidence has revealed serious problems with record keeping at the Halifax Regional Police department.
The force launched an internal audit after a police officer was charged following the disappearance of substance from a police locker last year.
“I would say that everything’s concerning,” says Superintendent Jim Perrin of the Halifax Regional Police.
Police are not sure exactly what, when, or how much, but they say they’re missing evidence.
“Obviously we find that concerning and we have staff working on that full time,” says Supt. Perrin.
In one drug locker, the initial audit revealed 90 percent of exhibits weren’t where they were supposed to be. Police found some, but 52 percent of the exhibit in the locker has still not been located.
Reports detailing the path of evidence once it has been seized are missing important details and are rarely accurate.
When it comes to money, police say for the most part, it is recorded inaccurately.
The Halifax Regional Police found the policy is not being followed – and that training needs to be standardized.
In total, police are certain there are 70 missing exhibits – but that’s from a sample size of 500. There is an estimated 10,000 in their drug vaults.
“It could be misplaced within the property room, it could be in court, or it could have been destroyed legally,” says Supt. Perrin.
It is possible, however, that someone could have also taken it.
“Is it possible? Yes. Do I have information suggesting it took place? Absolutely not,” says Supt. Perrin.
Police say they did not inform the Public Prosecution Service of Canada – but they say no court cases have been impacted, so they saw no need to inform defence lawyers.
“I think that’s very problematic,” says defence lawyer, Eugene Tan. “The law is that the Crown has got to prove that exhibits that are at trial are the same items that were seized at the time of the offense.”
Several other lawyers agree they should have been informed about the missing evidence. As for police assertion that no court cases have been impacted - one defence lawyer calls it “disingenuous”, another says it’s simply not for the police to say.
“I can’t really imagine a situation where a court case would not be impacted,” says Tan.
“If we have a court case with missing evidence, I am confident that I would have heard about it,” says Supt. Perrin.
Police say they are committed to making sure this doesn’t continue – they are prioritizing 34 recommendations, undertaking a multi-year endeavor to find the missing evidence, and to updating policy and training.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell