Canada’s “Mr. Big” Gets Judicial Reprimand: Top Cop Says All Fine

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By Kalyan Kumar | August 27, 2014 5:35 PM EST

Despite the Canadian Supreme Court's order frowning on police investigation tactics in the Mr. Big Technique, Canada's top cop says there is nothing amiss in it and is a very efficient crime detection tool.

Reuters
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair speaks at a news conference in Toronto, in this file photo from October 31, 2013. Blair has served Toronto city councillor Doug Ford with a defamation suit August 12, 2014 over comments Ford made about Blair.

In his remarks, Jim Chu, chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department, said the Mr. Big technique was an effective tool to trap killers and claimed that the agencies have the relevant policies in place to check its abuse, reported Canada.com

Canada's top court in July ruled that Mr. Big stings involve "powerful inducements" and "veiled threats" in extracting unreliable confessions.

Methodology

The Mr. Big operation is carried out by officers who pose as members of a criminal gang and win the suspect's trust with money and other allurements.

They also get the suspects to carry out jobs by involving him in staged criminal acts. Finally, there will be the meeting with the group's top boss, Mr. Big, to whom he must share details of all the past crimes.

Though the Supreme Court of Canada did not ban the technique outright, the court issued certain strictures against confessions under Mr. Big and made it made inadmissible in court. It also laid out a set of criteria in determining when they can be made admissible in a court.

Under the new norms, trial judges have to consider the inducements offered and also the threats made. Then they must ascertain the mental health of the accused.  Also details given in the confession must be examined to ensure that the accused has provided details, which are exclusive and not already made public.

Chu said that police agencies use that technique in such a way with all the evidence to corroborate that the person could not have concocted everything.

Alan Dale Case

The evidence gathered by police in a Mr. Big sting against Alan Dale Smith, charged in a 1974 murder, came under the scrutiny of an Ontario Superior Court judge. The judge threw out all the evidence, saying the sting by the Durham Regional Police and the confession extracted had big holes that a Mack truck can drive through them.

The Mr. Big technique was developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the 1990s and has been used at least 350 times. Sgt. Greg Cox, its spokesman, said all undercover operations by it will follow the findings of the Supreme Court.

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(Photo: Reuters / Mark Blinch)
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair speaks at a news conference in Toronto, in this file photo from October 31, 2013. Blair has served Toronto city councillor Doug Ford with a defamation suit August 12, 2014 over comments Ford made about Blair.
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