Simon Says

Bringing clarity to the inner workings of our legal system

When can CSC search cells?

Correctional Service Canada staff members are entitled to search cells and their contents in certain circumstances. However, CSC staff members are only supposed to search cells to the extent reasonably required for security purposes.

If a staff member believes on reasonable grounds that contraband or evidence of an offence is in a cell, then the cell can be searched. A supervisor must first authorize the search, and another staff member is to be present when the cell is being searched. However, there is an exception to the requirement for a supervisor’s authorization and having another staff member present. This exception only applies if the staff member believes on reasonable grounds that delaying the search to comply with those requirements would endanger the life or safety of another person or loss/destruction of contraband or evidence.

Staff members do not need individualized suspicion to search a cell though. Staff members are permitted to conduct searches on a periodic basis if they are “designed to detect, through the systematic examination of areas of the penitentiary that are accessible to inmates, contraband and other items that may jeopardize the security of the penitentiary or the safety of persons and are conducted in accordance with a search plan”.

The search plan is to set out when the searches are to occur, the locations of the searches, and the means that are to be used to carry out the searches. The search plan is to be approved by the Warden. When a staff member is searching a cell, another staff member is to be present.

Furthermore, if an emergency occurs and the Warden believes on reasonable grounds that contraband or evidence related to that emergency is located in a cell, the Warden can authorize a search of that cell and its contents.

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