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WRPS board accepts recommendations from Sexual Assault Task Force (update)

It highlights five key issues with a total of 11 recommendations
Waterloo Regional Police crest
Waterloo Regional Police crest. Erin Anderson/KitchenerToday

A report on how Regional Police handle cases of sexual violence went before the Waterloo Region Police Services Board Wednesday.

Police Chief Bryan Larkin put a task force together to look at the issue after a Globe and Mail investigation revealed a high number of sexual violence cases are labelled "unfounded."

The report highlights five key issues with a total of eleven recommendations. 

Regional Police ReportSexual Assault Task Force Findings. July 11, 2018. Photo: Waterloo Regional Police





















In total, 78 cases were looked at with reviewers finding nearly half of those were coded correctly, 36 per cent coded incorrectly, and 18 per cent are "unknown" due to lack of information or inadequate investigations. 

Of those cases, the way victims were interviewed was also looked at, with 31 cases (40%) determined to not have completed appropriate victim interviews.

An example of this included interviewing intoxicated victims, but not following up with them when they were sober, or not providing referrals to support systems in our community. 

Reviewers also brought two cases to the attention of the Special Victims Unit because of "serious concerns." They add one-third to one-half of the cases had "problematic, sometimes troubling, elements."

There is good news from the findings though, the Audit Team says they found more than half of the reviewed cases were conducted not only thoroughly and carefully but also compassionately.

When it comes to reviewing future cases, the Audit Team is looking see; more funding, committee members with experience dealing with survivors of sexual violence, having the review team be fully external (eg. only team members, not police officers involved at the time of the review), an adaptive criteria, and include all unfounded cases.

"Many of them (recommendations) focus on training, education, professional development, which are all positive. And ones that as the chief and as an organization, we accept, we endorse, we support." said Waterloo Regional Police Chief, Bryan Larkin.

He says changing the way they do trauma based interviews is an important piece, adding it takes incredible courage by victims to come forward.

"We have a plan to roll it out across the organization, but our focus is on criminal investigators first...we'll get a hundred done in September and then we'll roll it out across, so that every single member of our service will have trauma based interviewing. So it will take some time, but we'll get there." added Larkin.

The police service hopes to have all the recommendations in place by 2019.

with files from Phi Doan


Christine Clark

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