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Questions and Answers About Guarding

Where gender specific guarding is in effect, how much does it cost to call in a female guard to oversee a female detainee?

Guards are paid at a level 6 pay rate of $29.68 per hour + benefits.

With Council’s recent motion to switch to non-gender-specific guarding, what determines which guards get called in should additional guarding be needed?

Guards would be called in according to seniority; not according to gender.

List the things a guard does and does not do

Assist RCMP officers with their duties including:

  • receiving detainees arrested or held in lawful custody;
  • receiving, safekeeping and returning detainee’s effects;
  • entering appropriate information into computerized detainee booking and maintenance systems;
  • producing required forms;
  • photographing detainees;
  • releasing or transferring detainees to another authority/agency; and
  • preparing photo line-up.

Other duties include:

  • monitoring security, safety and well-being of detainees; (number one duty, overrides all others)
  • arranging/coordinating detainee telephone calls;
  • maintaining detainee log book;
  • keeping the Watch Commander informed of detainee issues and status;
  • attending to the personal needs of detainees including preparation and serving of meals and providing access to prescribed medications, etc;
  • supervising cell block visits and tours by ensuring the security and safety of staff, detainees and visitors is maintained at all times; (tours are rarely authorized)
  • securing detainee’s personal effects and ensuring their return upon release;
  • Maintaining cell block supplies and liaising with detachment administration to replenish stock; and
  • performing custodial duties to ensure the entire cell block is maintained to the highest health and safety standard.

Guards do not search or handle detainees. That is the responsibility of the RCMP.

What do RCMP officers do between the time they arrive with someone to when they leave them in the cell?

On arrival, RCMP search the detainee and stay with them on one side of a counter while the guard books them in on a computer system and takes their picture. The guard manages the paperwork, computer database entries and items seized from the detainee. RCMP then walk the detainee down to a phone booth so the detainee may call a lawyer. After the detainee finishes speaking with a lawyer, the RCMP officer places the detainee in a cell. A guard often will accompany the RCMP officer between the phone room and the cell to open the cell door and be present to raise the alarm if something happens.

When would a RCMP officer return to the cell block and under what circumstances?

RCMP officers are always in the building and make periodic checks of the cell block and sign the guard book. An RCMP officer would return to the cell block for a number of reasons including:

  1. They are asked by guard to return due to a detainee causing a disturbance in the cells;
  2. A detainee is trying to hurt themselves;
  3. A detainee needs medical attention;
  4. To remove or move a detainee for any number of other reasons including letting them have a shower, resolve a cell issue, etc; 
  5. To release the detainee or give the detainee access to a lawyer.

What happens when someone is suicidal?

A guard asks for the Watch Commander or another supervisor to attend to the cell block. A determination is made if medical help is required. If required, the BC Ambulance Service attends, makes determination and, if required, transports the detainee to the hospital. If the detainee is not injured, and, as long as they can remain in the cells, then as per RCMP policy, one guard must strictly observe the detainee on the CCTV and physically check on the detainee every 15 minutes. 

Are there female RCMP officers in the detachment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

Not always. During the day it is very likely there will be a female RCMP officer working in the detachment. However, in the evenings this may change.

Under what circumstances does a guard enter a cell?

Guards do not enter an occupied cell without an RCMP officer present and doing so would only be in an emergency. RCMP officers are required to be present when ever an occupied cell door is opened. Guards may be required to enter a cell and provide assistance when medical care is being administered to a detainee by either medics or RCMP officers.

How many guards are currently employed using gender-specific guarding?

Currently, there are eight permanent full-time positions (four male, four female) plus part-time, temporary and casual guards of both genders to provide coverage for absences.  (Two of the four female positions are vacant and back-filled by PT & casual staff.)

Historically, how many guards have been hired at any one time?

Normally there have been eight permanent full-time staff, but two vacancies were not filled while awaiting Council’s decision on the recommended change from the Core Services Review. Both vacant positions were previously filled by female guards. However, we had sufficient numbers of part time and casual female guards to ensure that we maintained our gender-specific practice while the full time positions were vacant.

Using a non-gender-specific guarding model, how many guards will be employed?

Based on the recent Council motion, the Nanaimo jail will utilize four permanent full-time guards in addition to the part-time, temporary and casual guards who are brought in as needed.

How many guards are on duty at any one time using the gender-specific approach vs. the non-gender-specific approach?

Currently, one male and one female guard are on duty at all times. Under the non-gender-specific approach, there will only be one guard on duty at all times, unless certain other RCMP-specified criteria are met. These criteria relate to the maximum number of detainees a guard can oversee and whether there is any detainee who is on suicide watch. In the latter case, there is one guard specifically dedicated to overseeing this detainee.

What triggers the arrival of additional guards during a shift?

High Risk (ie: suicidal) prisoner or reaching 11 prisoners per guard. Since two guards have always been on duty since 2009, neither of these triggers have been an issue. 

What training do guards receive prior to assuming their duties?

On-the-job training in the cell block plus first aid/CPR course. Trainers have also been brought in for cleaning procedures and biohazard control. They attend any available City courses as well (WHMIS, Blood Borne Pathogens, Fire Extinguisher/Fire Safety) as well as “tail gate” Occupation Health and Safety training.

How many other communities in BC use gender-specific guarding?

Every other detachment in BC has non-gender-specific guarding.

What type of contact do guards have with detainees?

Non-physical. They talk to detainees to collect information and ensure their safety, they feed them, etc. If a detainee is outside their cell, they must be escorted by an RCMP officer or Sheriff.

What is the current process for managing guarding absences and vacations?  Does this change with non-gender specific guarding?

Steps are taken to back-fill all vacancies on a gender specific basis to ensure 24-hours per day coverage year-round. With a budget reduction from two guards per shift to one guard per shift, vacancies will still be filled, but by seniority basis regardless of gender.

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