Why follow strict observe, record and report procedures?
Indigenous Guardians can play an important role in observing, recording and reporting suspicious and illegal activities. Guardians often spend more time patrolling their territory than staff from resource agencies and are more likely to encounter and be aware of suspicious activities.
In the case of infractions of provincial and federal laws, Indigenous Guardians generally do not have the authority to enforce these laws (though in some cases this authority may have been delegated). Rather, guardians can notify the relevant compliance and enforcement staff such as Conservation Officers, Fisheries Officers, Forestry Compliance Officers, RCMP, etc. It is then the role of the provincial or federal government to investigate the incident and respond accordingly with warnings, ticketing, charges, or arrest.
It is very important that Indigenous Guardians are trained to follow strict Observe, Record, and Report procedures in order to collect credible and defensible information about suspicious and illegal activities. Without accurately recorded information, enforcement officers are not able to follow up on reports or use this information as proof in court.
The Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Victoria developed a useful field guide that identifies clear procedures for guardians to follow to ensure that any information gathered can be acted upon. Some of the key procedural areas addressed in this guide include such things as:
- Proving an offence
- Talking to witnesses
- Collecting and preserving physical evidence
Cultivating and maintaining strong working relationships between your guardian staff and staff from resource agencies can go a long way toward building up trust and improving coordinated and efficient responses to illegal activities. See the chapter 'Establish Relationships with Resource Agencies' for more ideas.