Evaluation of the RCMP's Implementation of Enhanced Information and Specialized Support in Investigating Cases of Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains
June 26, 2015
An assessment of this report with respect to provisions in the Access to Information Act produced no exemptions; therefore this report is presented in its entirety.
Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- 1.0 Background and Context
- 2.0 Findings
- 3.0 Conclusion
- 4.0 Bibliography
- Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
- Chief Information Officer
- Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children
- Canadian Police Information Centre
- Missing Children/Persons and Unidentified Remains
- Multi-Disciplinary Multi-Agency Missing Person Investigation Initiative
- National Aboriginal Policing Services
- National Missing Children Service
- National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains
- Ontario Provincial Police
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
What We Examined:
In the 2010 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada announced actions to improve the capacity of law enforcement to better respond to cases of Canada's missing and murdered people, with a focus on Aboriginal women. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was allocated $10 million dollars over five years to establish a new, specialized operational support program. This program was designed to deliver four specific Concrete Actions, including:
- Enhancements to the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database meant to capture additional and more specific information on missing persons and unidentified remains by 2012/13;
- A national database of missing persons and unidentified remains so that police and coroners/medical examiners can access more comprehensive information across jurisdictions by 2012/13;
- A national website to encourage the public to provide tips and information on missing persons and unidentified human remains by 2011/12; and
- A national police support centre for missing persons and unidentified remains to coordinate missing persons investigations, deliver training and establish best practices, including a dedicated resource linked to National Aboriginal Policing Services (NAPS) to ensure a focus on the issue of missing Aboriginal women by 2013/14.
National Program Evaluation Services undertook a calibrated evaluation between June and November 2014, focusing on the implementation of these four program objectives. Throughout the report, references to Concrete Actions encompass these four activities.
Why it's important:
Approximately 64,000 Canadians are reported missing every year. While the majority are found within three months, more than 6,000 unsolved missing persons cases remain unsolved at any one time.Footnote 1 Missing persons and unidentified remains cases can cross municipal, provincial/territorial and international boundaries. These four Concrete Actions were proposed: to improve investigative consistency and provide better tools for Canadian investigators and coroners/medical examiners to help solve cases across jurisdictions and over time.
What we found:
- The Concrete Actions are aligned with government priorities and are part of a broader approach to missing and murdered persons in Canada.
- Enhancements to CPIC were completed between 2010 and 2012 to allow for more detailed information pertaining to Missing Persons or Unidentified Remains cases to be entered and accessed by investigating agencies. This information could then be extracted to the new Missing Children/Persons and Unidentified Remains (MC/PUR) database for more robust analysis.
- A national website (Canada's Missing) was launched in 2013 for the purpose of helping to solve cases of missing persons and unidentified human remains and has consolidated information across the country.
- A national database of missing persons and unidentified remains was established in 2014 with significant functionality. Although there were challenges in developing the database, appropriate adjustments were made. Additional capability will continue to be delivered in stages until Fall 2016.
- A national police support centre for missing persons and unidentified remains was established in 2011. It has coordinated missing persons investigations, delivered training, established best practices and employed a dedicated resource linked to NAPS.
- An unintended positive outcome of the Concrete Actions was the creation of a new community of practice comprised of police, coroners, and medical examiners. This group continues to support each other and enrich practices through the exchange information and ideas.
The RCMP created an enhanced operational program and delivered initiatives and mechanisms which support law enforcement efforts in investigating cases of missing and murdered individuals, including Aboriginal women. Senior management responsible for Specialized Policing Services is pleased that the evaluation highlights the tangible deliverables achieved.
1.0 Background and Context
Approximately 64,000 Canadians are reported missing every year. While the majority are found within three months, over 6,000 missing persons' cases remain unsolved at any one time. Some of these cases date back many years, even decades. Others are new.
Missing persons and unidentified remains cases can cross municipal, provincial/territorial and international boundaries. Investigations are often complicated as people go missing for a variety of reasons, for example: running away, involvement in an accident, or as a result of a violent crime. These investigations start with a missing persons report or with a finding of human remains.
Requests and recommendations for improvements in investigative consistency and better tools were raised through various reports and Commissions of Inquiry. Of particular note, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) made clear in a 2008 Resolution that new measures were required to overcome the lack of national standardization and professional consistency historically faced during missing persons' investigations. The Resolution underscored that Canadian police and coroners/medical examiners need to be equipped with consistent policies, procedures and a common tool by which to share information that may help solve a case or identify remains across jurisdictions and over time. The Resolution called for the creation of Canada's first national analytical software program (database) to house information pertaining to both missing persons and unidentified human remains. It also called for national leadership in establishing, for the first time, standardized procedures and policies for investigating cases of missing persons and unidentified remains across Canada.
1.1 Program Description
The RCMP received $10 million in funding over a five year period spanning from 2010/11 to 2014/15.Footnote 2 Specifically, $7,627,728 million was allocated to create specialized tools and a national centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains.Footnote 3
In building this new centre, the RCMP leveraged the existing talent, knowledge and reach of its then National Missing Children's Service (NMCS) within the Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (CPCMEC) group. Already situated within the Specialized Policing Service Line at National Headquarters in Ottawa, the RCMP was able to build on their work and expand the NMCS from a single focus on missing children to one that encompasses all missing persons regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and jurisdiction, in addition to supporting unidentified remains investigations. In February 2011, the start-up team consisted of a Sergeant supported by a contract Business Analyst and one Investigator, who was an Aboriginal female and also the liaison to NAPS. This composed the essential foundations of the new National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR).
The NCMPUR team grew to 11 staff, comprising eight police officers (Regular Members) and two Investigative Support staff (Public Servants).Footnote 4Footnote 5 This core team has served as a focal point for expertise in the area of missing persons and unidentified remains and has used this leadership position to advance the expected deliverables of investigative best practices and the establishment of specialized missing persons training for police officers as well as establishing an analytical service to aid primary investigators. In creating products, the NCMPUR leveraged staff from within the RCMP's Chief Information Officer (CIO) Sector, Learning and Development, the CPIC, and the Canadian Police College. In addition to the training and best practices, three technological deliverables were also called for:
- Enhancements to the CPIC database to capture additional and more specific information on missing persons and unidentified remains by 2012/13;
- A national database of missing persons and unidentified remains so that police and coroners/medical examiners can access more comprehensive information across jurisdictions by 2012/13;
- A national website to encourage the public to provide tips and information on missing persons and unidentified human remains by 2011/12.
Overall, the elements of the Concrete Actions Program and the mandate of the NCMPUR were interconnected.
1.2 Purpose and Scope of the Evaluation
This evaluation provides a neutral, evidence-based assessment of the RCMP's implementation of the four Concrete Actions, led by the NCMPUR with technical deliverables assigned to CPIC and the CIO Sector. The program was funded from 2010/11 until 2014/15.
National Program Evaluation Services undertook a calibrated evaluation between June and November 2014, focusing on the implementation of the four program objectives. Throughout the report, references to Concrete Actions refer to these four activities.
1.3 Methodology and Approach
This evaluation used both qualitative and quantitative information to develop findings and recommendations for the Concrete Actions and to help inform senior management decision making. The following lines of evidence were used to assess the RCMP's implementation of the Concrete Actions:
Document and Literature Review
Document and literature review included, but was not limited to, corporate documents, internal / external policy documents, program specific documents such as research papers commissioned by the RCMP, briefing notes, and business cases, etc.
Review of Performance and Financial Data
Available performance and financial data was gathered and analyzed to inform the evaluation. Performance data included information from the MC/PUR database, New Media, the Project Management Office and the RCMP's online learning tool, AGORA.
Interviews were used to complement and validate existing lines of evidence. Telephone and in-person interviews were conducted between June and November 2014. The in-person interviews took place at National Headquarters in Ottawa with Subject Matter Experts and staff responsible for CPIC, Applications Development, Aboriginal Policing and NCMPUR. Telephone interviews were undertaken with experienced missing persons and unidentified remains investigators posted to British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
|Contract and Aboriginal Policing||3|
This evaluation was calibrated to focus on the four Concrete Actions, their implementation and results in recognition that program funding was due to conclude March 31, 2015. Efficiencies, effectiveness and economy were assessed as part of the Concrete Actions implementation. Data, interviews and information were not sought from external sources.
Approximately 64,000 Canadians are reported missing every year. While the majority are found within three months, over 6,000 missing persons' cases remain unsolved at any one time. Missing persons and unidentified remains cases can cross municipal, provincial/territorial and international boundaries. These cases involve law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners and the legal system. They are often complex, difficult to solve and provide minimal evidence.
In the 2010 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada announced actions to improve the capacity of law enforcement to better respond to cases of Canada's missing and murdered people, with a focus on Aboriginal women. The government also indicated in that Speech that it is committed to ensuring that all women in Canada, including Aboriginal women, are safe and secure regardless of the community in which they live.
The funding for the Concrete Actions is not exclusively intended for Aboriginal women; it is allocated for a database, website and national support centre for all missing persons. While the funding supports a centre for missing persons of any cultural group, Aboriginal women are a particular population subset which tends to have a higher rate of victimization. In 2011, there were 718,500 Aboriginal females in Canada, representing 4.3% of the overall female population that year. However, Aboriginal females make up a disproportionate 11.3% of the total number of missing females. In addition, females represented 32% of homicide victims (6,551 victims) across all Canadian police jurisdictions between 1980 and 2012. There were 1,017 Aboriginal female victims of homicide during this period, which represents roughly 16% of all female homicides. Footnote 6 This is far greater than their representation in Canada's female population.
The four Concrete Actions are part of the expanded operational program, which represents only a portion of the current federal investments related to reducing violence against Aboriginal women. These Concrete Actions are aligned with the RCMP's outcome of "Criminal activity affecting Canadians is reduced" by working to decrease the number of unsolved cases related to missing persons.
2.2 Performance – Efficiency and Economy
Under the Concrete Actions Program, the RCMP was entrusted with creating a centre to advance a program of inter-connected, specialized services and tools. The centre would be designed to support Canadian law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners in investigating cases of missing persons and unidentified remains regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and jurisdiction.
The RCMP established the NCMPUR in 2011. Within the first year, it was staffed with an Officer in Charge supported by two Investigators, one of which was an Aboriginal female Regular Member. This member served in the role of liaison to NAPS to ensure a focus on missing Aboriginal women. The centre was subsequently staffed with a total of eight Regular Member investigators and two civilian Investigative Support staff.Footnote 7
Expected deliverables from the NCMPUR were the compilation of investigative best practices, training programs and the provision of expert investigative advice and case analysis to law enforcement and partners. The NCMPUR was also assigned the role of ensuring information technology updates were implemented. The plan called for upgrades to the CPIC system, creation of a national analytical database and developing a public tips website.
The NCMPUR Best Practices compendium was created to support the best possible conduct of all missing persons and unidentified remains investigations. It was completed in the fall of 2012 and was initially distributed to the CACP and RCMP Criminal Operations Officers in all provinces with the request that they disseminate it to the appropriate units under their command. This document is continually evolving based on feedback and recommendations from various bodies and Subject Matter Experts. The Best Practices compendium was also sent to two First Nations Community Policing Services. The Best Practices compendium has been shared with Canadian police services as well as coroners and medical examiners in both official languages and is also available upon request. The Best Practices were developed by the NCMPUR team based on documents, policies and procedures obtained from police agencies across Canada and from foreign police services and research papers. In 2014, the first consultations were held with specialized investigators from various police agencies across Canada and medical examiners and coroners to ensure that the document be updated and maintained as a reliable source of current information.
The NCMPUR described the response to the Investigative Best Practices compendium as, "very positive with various agencies indicating that they are incorporating these practices into their policies and/or protocols."Footnote 8 Furthermore, responses within the RCMP to the Best Practices have been positive. Interviewees representing both management and field investigators spoke to the benefit of having established standards across jurisdictions that enable cooperation and ensure due diligence in the conduct of investigations.
The NCMPUR developed an Advanced Missing Persons & Unidentified Remains Investigators Course in partnership with the Canadian Police College. This five day program was piloted as in-class training in March 2012. Working with feedback from the in-class training, the NCMPUR created online training courses as these are the most accessible, efficient and cost effective means of reaching Canadian police. Online courses were made available in both official languages as of January 2013 to members of the RCMP as well as to other Canadian police forces via the established Canadian Police Knowledge Network portal. The courses were: Child Abduction – Amber Alert; Child Abduction – Applicable Legislation & Charging Guidelines; Missing Adults – Level One Investigator, Missing Children – Level One Investigator and Unidentified Remains – Level One Investigator. In total, the courses had been accessed and completed 1,486 times by December 31, 2014.
In March 2012, the NCMPUR hosted an initiative designed to secure the suggestions, insights and knowledge of Subject Matter Experts from various fields of expertise, including: MP/UR Investigators, Forensic Analysts/Experts, Major Crimes Investigators, Forensic Anthropologists and academic researchers. Called the Multi-disciplinary Multi-agency Missing Person Investigation Initiative (MMMII), this inaugural event had the goal of helping to develop new leads on specific unresolved investigations. The NCMPUR Aboriginal liaison investigator ensured that cases of missing Aboriginal people were included in this initiative. The information brought forward through this new approach resulted in the positive identification of unidentified remains, new investigative avenues for two cases, and a possible lead on an unidentified remains case. The NCMPUR reported positive participant feedback and an interest in having further collaborative sessions. A second MMMII was held in January of 2014. It was funded by the Canadian Safety and Security Program through the Defence Research and Development Canada Centre for Security Science as an innovative approach which could be applied to other investigations (on-going or future) and compiled in a resource manual.
These approaches have had the practical benefit of identifying initiatives that this newly formed community of practice has determined will increase operational effectiveness and which would be most economical if developed and delivered centrally. This approach has also allowed for the best information, held by various individuals and agencies, to be collated and made available for all. Interviewees also highlighted the additional benefit of having built relationships and cohesion, such that those involved in the investigation of missing persons and unidentified remains have now formed a community of practice where there was not one before.
Another example of the Centre's support has been its ability to connect with police agencies that have open cases of missing aboriginal women and to advocate for these cases to be published to the Canada's Missing website. The website has a total of 906 Missing Persons and 105 Unidentified Remains records and contains profiles for 74 aboriginal adult women and aboriginal girls.
The investigation of missing persons and unidentified remains cases has been described as highly complex and requiring specialized knowledge and expertise. The former trajectory for investigators was to gain that knowledge and expertise through years of practical experience. Interviewees serving in investigative roles stated that they learned on the job and connected with peers for ideas and advice. These same investigators described the benefit of having Canada's various investigators convene as a community of practice to share knowledge. One interviewee described it as the multiplier effect wherein everyone contributed something and everyone's investigative skills were enriched through the exchange.
The NCMPUR has advanced a program of specialized services and tools and has achieved the objective of being a national support service to Canadian police.
In 2008, the CACP passed a resolution calling for the creation of, "a single system used by all police, coroner and medical examiner agencies across Canada, to share and compare accurate missing person and unidentified remains case information."Footnote 9
Spurred by this resolution, a Technical Sub-Committee comprised of diverse representatives from Canadian police services as well as coroners and medical examiners was established to provide expert advice on which single system would be best for all. The Committee was charged with assessing the options, giving specific consideration to: the cost of implementing a solution, avoiding duplicate data entry, the impact on front line investigators, the requirement for new training and standard operating procedures. Their recommendation was to use the pre-existing Canadian Police Information Centre system, commonly known as CPIC.
CPIC is a national, central databank managed by the RCMP in Ottawa. On-line since 1972, CPIC is the primary means by which 3,100 law enforcement agencies across Canada, representing 80,000 users, access information essential to performing their duties on a 24/7 basis. Information housed within CPIC includes criminal records, information on wanted persons, those on parole or probation, stolen vehicles, stolen property and missing persons. As such, police are able to access and query information held in CPIC via remote computer terminals, mobile workstations and hand held devices. For instance, a police officer in a patrol car can enter a name into CPIC and any information relating to that person is displayed, including whether the person is the subject of a missing persons report.
CPIC has undergone numerous upgrades over the years as a result of new legislative requirements and societal changes. For instance, in response to changing demographics and the increasing number of people with dementia, the Alzheimer's Society requested that police have access to their Wandering Persons list. CPIC was upgraded to link to this new information.
To address the requirements of the Concrete Actions, additional enhancements to CPIC were proposed which would improve the information available to police and coroners/medical examiners on missing persons and unidentified remains. One such example in terms of unidentified remains is the ability to enter information about specific body parts (skeletal inventory). Previously, police were unable to document found body parts because CPIC did not have the capability to record them. Additional fields were also added to unidentified remains entries to allow for more detailed physical description. For example, the ability to record clothing found with a body which may be specifically associated with cultural background can be an important indicator in an investigation. For missing persons, the changes allowed for a greater description of distinguishing features such as tattoos, piercings, surgical implants, as well as the ability to record detailed information on personal property such as electronics and jewellery. For both, fields were added to allow geographic coordinates which are necessary when performing geographic analysis. CPIC's Change Advisory Board considered and then approved a total of twenty-eight upgrades to the system.Footnote 10
Thirteen of the enhancements were immediately completed in November 2010. Subsequent upgrades took place in May and November of 2011 and 2012. To help ensure success, these were announced to the CPIC community through the established CPIC process whereby 90 days advance notice was given to the user community detailing the specifics of impending changes, allowing everyone to prepare for the new functionality. The week before the changes were put into effect, a CPIC Broadcast announcing the changes was disseminated to all users. The advance notification and CPIC Broadcast were issued for each release of the enhancements to Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains. Furthermore, the CPIC User Manual was updated to ensure that users had reference material and instructions on how to enter information should they need it. The aforementioned demonstrates that users of the database were all highly aware of the changes as they were implemented.
The immediate objective of the improvements to CPIC was to increase the capability of capturing critical investigative information in order to advance cases of missing persons and unidentified remains. Evidence indicates that the upgrades are achieving this goal; the releases were timely and with each release police services were informed and able to enter more detailed information into the system. As time passes, it is possible to conduct searches that are more likely to result in a match.
The CPIC enhancements were also designed to capture information that the MC/PUR database, once completed, would draw upon. The idea was for police to enter information once, with the benefit of populating the CPIC repository as well as having that information flow into MC/PUR.
The Concrete Actions called upon the RCMP to design, build and manage a new national website containing information on missing persons and unidentified remains. Public tips websites with a focus on securing the public's help in solving missing persons and unidentified remains cases had already been established in some Canadian jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. For example, the Crime Stoppers program, which has been in existence at the local level since the 1970s, has long provided a means by which the public can provide information to help solve a case. The RCMP's website aimed to fulfill the requirement of complementing existing approaches while serving all jurisdictions, given the cross-border nature of Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains cases.
On January 31, 2013, the RCMP launched this website, called www.CanadasMissing.ca.
The website went live with 715 cases from across Canada. After two years (January 2013-January 2015), there were 1079 profiles.Footnote 11 The number of profiles on the website fluctuates as primary investigators request they be added or removed. The Canada's Missing website continues to receive new profiles from primary investigators. It is also receiving profiles which had been featured on local and provincial websites as these sites migrate information to the national location.
For a profile to be displayed on the website, it must be submitted for publication by the primary investigator, coroner or medical examiner that is the authority on whether and what information can be released for the circumstances of the investigation. The primary investigator is also best positioned to consult with the family of a missing person for their perspective on posting information about their loved one. Another prerequisite for publication is that the case must have been entered into the CPIC system and that text in the profile information must be available in both of Canada's official languages.
Within the first 60 days of existence, the Canada's Missing website logged over 14,000 visits. In January, 2015, there were over 17,000 visits.Footnote 12
There were 283,679 page views in 2013 while in 2014 there were 358,798 views: a 25% increase. To date, 285,729 different users have visited the site. It has been noted that there was a 'spike' in the number of views in May 2013, when over 60,000 people viewed the website. Subsequently, there were 120,000 views in the same month the next year.Footnote 13 The increased interest may be attributed to media coverage and related events. Examples include the National Missing Children's Day campaign, National Aboriginal Day, documentaries such as the 5th Estate's "Finding Emma" episode and the annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil.
Aggregate data on the number of tips submitted by the public after visiting the website is not available. While the website serves as a single access point for the public on missing persons and unidentified remains cases, anyone wishing to submit a tip is able to do so by telephone or email. Each page featuring a case also displays the telephone number and email address of the primary agency responsible for that investigation. Should one prefer to submit a completely anonymous tip, the details of how to contact Crime Stoppers by telephone and email are also provided. The contact particulars for the NCMPUR are the last to be listed on the site.
The RCMP's NCMPUR received 103 tips between January 31st 2013 and December 22nd 2014 relating to 78 profiles.Footnote 14 This figure only represents the total for one of the three mentioned avenues available on the site for submitting tips. One Canadian police service advised that, within a week of the website going live, they experienced a four-fold increase in the number of tips received (from 2 to 8 tips per day). Aggregate data on the total number of tips submitted via all channels is not available.
Specifics on the value of tips submitted as a result of visiting the website are not available. Tipsters have been directed to the investigating agency and to Crime Stoppers first. Any information received via the NCMPUR is relayed to the investigating agency. Having the public and the media cooperate with authorities in solving cases has long been acknowledged as a successful approach, especially in cases where the investigator has exhausted all known leads. This is especially true in cases where many years have passed since a person has gone missing or human remains have been located. Police, medical examiners and chief coroners remain committed to resolving these cases and the participation of the public is vital. It is stated that regardless of how insignificant a piece of information may seem, a member of the public may have the one key element needed to successfully solve a case.
NCMPUR undertook consultations regarding the website with representatives of key stakeholder groups from across Canada, noted their requirements and expectations, and incorporated these into the design where possible. For instance, the website had to meet federal standards for common look and feel while capturing public interest and engaging tipsters and amateur sleuths. Through its Aboriginal Liaison member, NCMPUR organized consultations with National Aboriginal Organizations and garnered additional requirements such as the ability to print a poster of a profile from the website. These consultations also resulted in the website's name: Canada's Missing.
While the primary purpose of the website was to garner tips from the public to help primary investigators advance or solve a case, it has achieved other outcomes. The website is a tangible demonstration of the commitment to solving cases of missing persons and unidentified remains investigations and serves to demonstrate that the police are willing to employ all tips, tools and efforts. The website also provides families with the opportunity to search through published records themselves.
The RCMP met its obligations by establishing the technical infrastructure ― Canada's Missing website ― that is publishing selected case information on a national scale with the aim of having the public report information related to unsolved cases of missing persons and unidentified remains.
The RCMP was asked to create Canada's first national police database specifically dedicated to housing comprehensive information on missing persons and unidentified human remains cases. The NCMPUR was given the lead in developing the database. The RCMP's CIO Sector was assigned the role of building the system, called the MC/PUR Database.
Previously, several Canadian Police Services had pursued special projects to locate missing persons and identify human remains. One example is the Ontario Provincial Police's (OPP) Missing Persons and Unidentified Bodies unit, which launched the Resolve Initiative. This initiative used analytical software to cross-reference case information held by the OPP as well as the Chief Coroner. Between 2006 and 2010, 43 cases were solved through this approach, including one dating back to 1968.
While some agencies and provinces had developed stand-alone software and analytical solutions to assist them with investigating cases of missing persons and unidentified remains, others had cold case information available in paper files. Police and coroner information was compartmentalized and segmented. However, the reality is that individuals who are reported missing in one jurisdiction can be located, alive or deceased, in a different jurisdiction, province or country.
In creating the new national database, the NCMPUR consulted with representatives from across Canada to ensure that their needs were documented. Requirements were established: most importantly, the need to have missing persons and unidentified remains information uploaded from CPIC into a system that would automatically perform cross-comparisons, searching for matches or similarities between cases. Having quick comparison and linkages across jurisdictions was paramount to increasing the successful resolution of cases. Other examples of requirements brought forth by the user community included housing photographs of scars, tattoos, etc.; an automated diary date to prompt the review of a case; searches of cases within 50 kilometres of a postal code; and the ability to generate statistical reports by region, probable cause, how the case was solved, etc.
With the user requirements established, the CIO Sector commenced work on the project. The development team had little experience in the new technology and the product that was created did not meet user requirements. The CIO Sector's Project Review Board, a governance body, assessed the situation and decided that the existing product was not salvageable. A new project plan was created in December 2012 which split the deliverables into key phases. A scaled back functioning version of the database was released on May 21st, 2014. Since this time, MC/PUR has been drawing regular data feeds from CPIC on missing children, missing persons and unidentified remains. This means that information on all missing persons and unidentified remains entered into CPIC now has the benefit of enriched analysis. Furthermore, with MC/PUR becoming operational and taking up information on missing children's cases, the existing Missing Children's Registry, in operation since the mid-1980s, will be retired. Interviewees underscored their interest in having this common investigative aid established, noting assumptions that police have access to more technology and tools than is the reality. The expected business outcomes from the database included a significant reduction in the cost of, and time required for, integrating information and information handling processes.
The original estimated cost for the database was $1,153,000, with a completion date of August 20th, 2013. A scaled back functioning version of the database was released on May 21st, 2014, with costs totalling $1,963,102. Once completed in the fall of 2016, the total investment is expected to be approximately $2,406,847.Footnote 15
During the implementation of the four Concrete Actions, two specific challenges resulted in several inefficiencies in the use of financial and human resources.
The first challenge was that the MC/PUR database had to be redeveloped. It was originally developed and released for user acceptance testing in March of 2013. At that time, it was discovered that there were fundamental problems with the architecture and the coding. Senior staff within the CIO Sector determined that the development team had insufficient expertise to work with the new technology and that the product as created did not meet requirements. The CIO reassigned more experienced staff with this particular technology from other ongoing projects to work on the MC/PUR rewrite. Also, the CIO had a senior architect review the plans and has undertaken frequent reviews of the coding through the use of a new tool designed for this purpose.
The CIO's new implementation plan has ensured that the database is progressing. However, due to the delays, it will take another year and will cost approximately double the original estimate. In addition to the financial implications, this delay has had an adverse effect on the RCMP's work with Canadian policing partners who had expected the database to be operational by early 2013. The CIO Sector had to delay the release of other ongoing commitments so as to assign the necessary talent to the MC/PUR project. The CIO team created a Lessons Learned document from this database delay, which has been applied to other CIO Sector projects. Additionally, a new tool previously used for major information technology projects was acquired to test the interoperability of MC/PUR computer coding.
Implementing the Centre was another example of where efficiencies could have been realized. The intended focus of work for the NCMPUR from 2010 to 2013 was described as start-up, designing and building. This entailed administrative work to support the upgrades to CPIC and to create the website and database. This administrative work included writing the business requirements and preparing a privacy impact assessment. Work in the first three years also involved the compilation of best practices and the creation of training courses for Canadian police. The foundation for all of these products was liaison, consultation and engagement with stakeholders from across Canada, meant to capture their input and ensure that all products met their requirements.
The NCMPUR was conceived of as an expansion of the existing and longstanding Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (CPCMEC). It has been noted that this was a logical extension in that the tools, policies and protocols for missing persons would be similar to those that had been developed over the years for missing children and, therefore, the kind of staff would be similar as well. The NCMPUR organization chart was created to put police officers in place in the role of Law Enforcement/Criminal Investigators.
NCMPUR was initially staffed with a Sergeant experienced and knowledgeable in missing children investigations and an Aboriginal female Constable responsible for connecting with RCMP NAPS and serving in a liaison role. A Business Analyst was contracted for the project to provide expertise in business requirements, privacy, business modeling and implementation. As the program was defined, the team was joined by an Inspector with national and international program and project management experience.
Subsequent staffing actions were undertaken to engage Corporals and Constables for a total of eight Regular Members. In considering the nature of the work undertaken by the NCMPUR from 2010 to mid-2014, which focused on building the Centre and its training/tools, there may have been an opportunity to engage a different mix of staff.Footnote 16 A look at the NCMPUR team's self-assessment of their time spent on various projects from October to December, 2014, shows that, while 80% of the team is composed of Regular Members, 8% of their time is spent on investigative analysis. Meanwhile, between 15% and 20% is being spent on areas such as publication, information acquisition and administration work.Footnote 17
The RCMP was allocated $10 million dollars over five years to establish a new specialized operational support program to deliver four specific Concrete Actions.
Three of the four Concrete Actions have been fully implemented with positive results. The outcomes of standardized investigative tools, training, a national website and enhanced query and analytical technology have led to increased efficiency in the advancement of missing persons cases.
In addition, unintended positive outcomes have included a new community of practice that brings together police, coroners, and medical examiners to exchange information and ideas. The final Concrete Action, the database, has been rolled out with significant functionality and is expected to be completed within the next two years. Lessons learned have been developed to address the challenges identified during this phase.
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Government of Canada, RCMP: NCMPUR. "Report on the Privacy Impact Assessment of the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR)." December 5, 2013. p.1-193. Web.
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Government of Canada, RCMP. "RCMP Launches National Public Website for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains." January 31, 2013. N.p. Web.
Government of Canada, The Treasury Board, "Treasury Board Submission for Concrete Actions on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women." 2010. N.p. Print.
Government of Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat. "Concrete Actions to address the disturbingly high number of Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women." 2010. p.8. Web.
Ontario Provincial Police. "OPP Missing Persons Unidentified Bodies Unit (MPUB) "Resolve Initiative" Backgrounder." August 16, 2010. p.1. Web.
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