Collecting Photographic Evidence

Policy

Category: General Health Protection
Subject: Collecting Photographic Evidence
Division: N/A
Policy Number: CA.86.01.104
Effective Date: March 25, 2013

POLICY STATEMENT

It is the policy of the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) Health Protection Division for Provincial Offences Officers (POOs) (Public Health Inspectors [PHIs] and Tobacco Enforcement Officers [TEOs]) and Public Health Nurses (PHN) to have access to a digital camera for use during an inspection or investigation. The digital camera is available for use when corroborating evidence may be needed for a future legal proceeding. Digital photographs can be used to support information or findings during an investigation or inspection, and when entered into the file become part of the official record. Correct and complete documentation of the photographs and the photograph sequence supports and adds credibility to the investigative techniques used and can aid memory recall when the POO or PHN is required to testify in court.

SCOPE

This policy applies to all POOs and other PHNs working in the Health Protection Division.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Employee will:
  • Use a WDGPH assigned digital camera during an investigation or inspection;
  • Keep the camera in a safe and secured place at all times; and
  • Download photos applicable to the investigation or inspection into the corresponding investigation/inspection file on returning to the office and in accordance with the corresponding procedure.
Supervisor/Manager will:
  • Ensure employees have access to WDGPH camera and memory card that are in working order; and
  • Ensure photographs are documented in accordance with the corresponding procedure.

DEFINITIONS

Digital photograph – is a photograph taken during the investigation or inspection, assigned a number, and documented in the POO’s notebook (see policy and procedure CA.86.01.103 Notebook Documentation) and/or the premise file. Photographs can be used to collect supporting evidence or findings during an investigation or inspection.

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Corresponding Procedure: CA.86.02.104 Collecting Photographic Evidence
CA.86.01.103 Notebook Documentation

APPROVED BY

Rob Thompson  


Procedure

Category: General Health Protection
Subject: Collecting Photographic Evidence
Division: N/A
Procedure Number: CA.86.02.104
Effective Date: March 25, 2013

PROCEDURE

Note: photographs are not considered testimony in themselves and are not necessary in order to obtain a conviction, but can be useful in supporting inspection details and a Provincial Offences Officer’s (POOs) testimony in court.

  1. All Provincial Offences Officers (POOs) and Public Health Nurses (PHNs) in the Health Protection Division will have access to a workplace digital camera. Control of Infectious Diseases Public Health Inspectors (CID PHIs) will be assigned a digital camera and 16GB SDHC memory card.  The CID Manager will maintain a record of each camera and to whom it was assigned, using the unique camera barcode located on main camera packaging.
  2. Before leaving the office for inspection, the POO/PHN will verify that the memory card is blank (any previous pictures have been downloaded to a designated file location and deleted from the camera’s memory card) before taking any pictures associated with a new investigation or inspection.
  3. If pictures are to be taken as evidence, the POO/PHN will inform the premise operator that pictures will be taken and may be used as evidence of noted deficiencies and/or infractions.
  4. The POO or PHN will ensure that only photographs of items relevant to observed deficiencies and/or infractions are taken during the inspection, and that no photographs of individuals will be captured.
  5. The POO will document each picture (by number) that is taken in their evidence notebook, including the date, time, and location where pictures are taken, and the general subject of the picture i.e.
  • December 5, 2011, 1400 hours – XYZ Place (with the HedgeHog Facility Number if applicable) – Picture 1: broken hand washing sink (men’s washroom);
  • If the premise is listed in Hedgehog, a comment will be documented in the comments section of the inspection report, in order to reflect that pictures were taken during the inspection and the number of pictures taken will be noted in the file.
  1. The POO or PHN will immediately return to the office and download pictures to the designated file/storage location (i.e. staff’s assigned workplace H: drive) and in a designated complaint-specific or inspection-specific folder. The POO or PHN will record this location/folder in the evidence notebook.
  2. Once all photographs have been downloaded from the camera into the designated drive and folder, the pictures will be deleted from the camera.
  3. The POO or PHN will ensure that no deleting or post-editing of photographs occurs (i.e. no sharpening, zooming, etc). If photographs are to be printed and attached to a paper file, all photographs should be printed (including blurred/unfocussed pictures), and the back of each photograph dated and signed by the POO or PHN who captured the images, and numbered to correspond with the record of each image that was documented in the evidence notebook when the photograph was taken.
  4. Photographs will be retained on file for the duration of the file as per the organization’s document retention policy.

REFERENCES AND RELATED FORMS, POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Corresponding Policy: CA.86.01.104 Collecting Photographic Evidence
CA.86.01.103 Notebook Documentation

APPROVED BY

Rob Thompson