Pilot study of method to review closed organized crime files

4. The SPSS research database (cont'd)


1. Quantity and Size

In all, 85 files were reviewed in the six regional offices, ranging from a low of 10 in Toronto to a high of 17 in Montreal. At no site were 20 complete and closed files available for review. All qualifying (meaning closed, complete and physically accessible) files available at each site were reviewed. In terms of size, files reviewed were roughly equally divided into small (less than 1 pocket) medium (from 1 pocket to 1 box) large (2 to 5 boxes) and very large files (over 6 boxes):

Table 3.2: Size of Files Reviewed
File size Percentage of files
< 1 pocket 27%
1 pocket to 1 box 20%
2 - 5 boxes 28%
Over 6 boxes 25%

Only 12% of files had ten boxes or more of documentation.

2. Agents

Of the 85 files reviewed, only three (3.5%) were clearly prosecuted by Crown Agents.

3. Dates

The earliest file reviewed was opened in 1989, although this was clearly an outlier, with the next earliest and remainder spanning the period from April 1995 to October 2002. The earliest closed date on file was March 1997, with the most recent being June of 2003, just prior to the review. The average time span during which files were open was 34.4 months (with a range of 3-166 months). Note that not all opened and closed dates were found for the files reviewed. Three files had no open date and eleven no closing date.

4. File Linkages

Approximately half (50.5%) of the files reviewed were clearly linked to other FPS files. Another 17.5% were deemed likely to be linked to other FPS files, given information in the file that suggested a wider scope. Only 32% appeared to be stand- alone files with no links to other FPS files.

5. Nature of the File

The following table summarizes the prevalence of mutual legal assistance requests, extradition orders, wiretap evidence and other variables characterizing the nature of the file:

Table 3.3: Prevalence of Potential Organized Crime File Indicators
Variable Reference Found in Files (percentage reflects how many of the total files reviewed included the item)
Police project name 66%
Wiretap evidence 60%
Drug seizures 59%
Other property seizures 51%
Police reported as involving organized crime 51%
Real property seizures 14%
Mutual legal assistance request 13%
Witness list with persons outside of Canada 8%
Extradition order 7%

Slightly over one half of the files reviewed were identified by police as involving organized crime (50.5%). Also thought to be a potential indicator of organized crime files, the existence of a police project name was found in 66% of the files reviewed. This seems to be the single most indicative variable of an organized crime file, although clearly since there was no systematic review of files that were not deemed to be organized crime, it may simply reflect the relative frequency with which police designate investigations by project names, whether or not they are related to organized crime.

Since the inclusion of these variables was prompted by the discussion at the May 30th workshop surrounding the development of indicators for organized crime files, it is important to point out that none of these were particularly good indicators taken in isolation (given their generally low frequency even in those files identified as organized crime files by the regional prosecutors).

6. Law Enforcement

The RCMP were involved in 74% of all files reviewed, while provincial police (only the OPP) were involved in 12%. Municipal police were involved in 35% of the files seen and included police from twelve regions/cities. Twenty-five files involved other law enforcement agencies or investigative units, as follows:

Table 3.4: Other Law Enforcement Agencies/Units Involved
Agency(s) Number of files
Canada Customs and Revenue Agency 6
US Drug Enforcement Agency 4
CCRA Special Investigations Unit (Tax related) 3
Integrated Proceeds of Crime Units (IPOC) 3
US Dept. of Justice, US Customs and French Authorities 3
European Authorities 2
Metro Toronto Police Special Investigation Services (Heroin Unit) 1
Ontario Ministry of Finance 1
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) 1
CIC and Department of National Defence 1

7. Summary Data on Accused and Charges per File

The number of accused per file ranged from 0 to 19, with an average of 4. Charges ranged from 0 to 104 per file, with an average of 17.5. Note that each count of a charge was tabulated as a separate charge. The maximum number of trials per file was 2 (in all, 34 accused went to trial, see section C.2 below); likewise, no single file involved more than one appeal. Detailed information on accused and charges are provided below in the respective sections.

In only one instance was a trial held and no outcome information available, while there were three appeals for which no outcome could be found on file.

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