The Major Case Management (MCM) system is an innovative approach to solving crimes and dealing with complex incidents. All of Ontario’s police services use MCM to investigate certain types of serious crimes such as:

  • homicides
  • sexual assaults
  • abductions

MCM combines specialized police training and investigation techniques with a computer software system called PowerCase. The software manages the vast amounts of information involved in investigations of serious crimes.

It is especially useful in helping police identify common links in crimes committed in different locations — crimes that might have been committed by the same person.

Ontario is the only place in the world to have this type of computerized network for case management. It means that when there is a serious incident, any police service in the province will use the system in their investigation right from the start.

Since 2002, all municipal police services and the Ontario Provincial Police use the MCM system.

Solving cases

MCM helps police solve major cases by:

  • providing an efficient way to keep track of, sort and analyse huge amounts of information about a crime, including:
    • police notes
    • witness statements
    • door-to-door leads
    • names
    • locations
    • vehicles
    • phone numbers
  • streamlining investigations
  • making it possible for police to see connections between cases so they can reduce the risk that serial offenders will avoid being caught
  • preventing crime and reducing the number of potential victims by catching offenders sooner

Examples of high-profile cases

These are examples of high-profile cases where police used the Major Case Management system:

  • In the Holly Jones murder, MCM helped the Toronto Police Service manage the large amount of information they gathered during their investigation.
  • During the two SARS outbreaks, MCM helped police and medical authorities manage the large amount of information they needed to track.
  • The Ontario Provincial Police used MCM for their investigation into the circumstances and handling of the Walkerton E. coli bacteria outbreak.
  • Toronto Police Service and Peel Regional Police Service jointly used MCM to work together in solving the Cecilia Zhang murder.
  • One of Canada’s worst mass murders involved eight biker gang members found dead west of St. Thomas. The Ontario Provincial Police used MCM in the complex investigation that lead to the arrest of eight people, six charged with first degree murder and two charged as accessories after the fact.

Why the Major Case Management system was built

In 1995, after conviction of Paul Bernardo, the Ontario government appointed former Justice Archie Campbell to review the roles of the police, Centre of Forensic Sciences, Office of the Chief Coroner and the provincial government during the investigations.

Justice Campbell found that a lack of coordination, cooperation and communication between police and other parts of the justice system contributed to a dangerous serial predator “falling through the cracks”. One of the key recommendations was the establishment of a common automated case management software application. As a result, the MCM system was developed by the government in partnership with the Ontario policing community.

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