'The police did not take my driving complaint seriously'

Cops and complaints

“The police did not take my driving complaint seriously, what is my next step?

I know for a fact my wife and I had the offending vehicle’s B.C. license number correct and a description of the driver. After reporting the incident, I received a call from a constable telling me the plate number I gave them was registered to a Hyundai and not the Pontiac I reported. They told me there was nothing they could do.”

I can respond to this reader's question from both sides of the fence, as I have been both an investigator and a dissatisfied complainant with regard to a driving complaint.

As an investigator, I can say having the license plate number that was reported identify as being on a different vehicle than the type complained about happens fairly regularly. Most often it is a mistake in reading the plate, which can be very difficult now that some B.C. license plates are designed for decoration rather than legibility.

If it is not an error reading the licence plate of the offending vehicle, it is most likely a stolen licence plate or one recently transferred and the records have not been updated yet. In all of these cases, a telephone call or a visit to the registered owner can clear up any discrepancy.

The information gained from the follow-up investigation can either confirm it is the wrong licence plate number or that the correct plate and the wrong vehicle description.

With the former, there is nothing further to be done and with the latter, appropriate action may be taken.

In my recent experience, it is obvious to me there is a very low priority assigned to driving complaints where a collision has not occurred. The outcome of your complaint depends on whether the investigator assigned to it does a thorough job of the investigation and whether their supervisor allows it to be concluded with only superficial treatment.

If you made a detailed complaint and are willing to follow it up, there are circumstances where it is not possible for the police to do so, but these should be rare. These reasons should also make sense when the officer contacts you to update you on the outcome of your complaint.

Make sure you ask for, and record, the file number of your complaint if you wish to pursue the matter further.

You can follow up by requesting a copy of your file to see what was done about your complaint. For the RCMP, you use the federal Access to Information and for municipal police forces in B.C. you would use the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

A formal complaint may be made to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP or Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner for municipal police.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories