Unprecedented yet far too late: 7 police agencies in Canada will let experts in sexual violence study uncensored case files on unfounded or inactive sexual assault investigations, “Right now, there is a bit of crisis across the country concerning victims’ confidence in the criminal justice system.” Surely they jest! “Justice” System? What “Justice?” There’s no confidence in Canada’s civil legal system either! Who’s going to investigate that?

RCMP to review 25,000 more sexual assault cases, National police force expands sexual assault review to all cases since 2015 where no charges laid by Alison Crawford, December 15, 2017, CBC News

[It’s high time.

Now, when are the RCMP going to start pressing charges against Canada’s law-violating regulators enabling oil company crimes? When are the RCMP that harass and try to silence frac harmed Canadians going to be appropriately investigated and punished, and not by the very RCMP that do the abusing! ]

The RCMP is set to dramatically expand its review of closed sexual assault cases.

The decision comes after an examination of 2,225 files from 2016 where Mountie investigators had concluded the complainants’ allegations were unfounded.

Having identified investigative, supervisory and knowledge gaps, the national police force has decided to re-examine every sexual assault case since 2015 where no charges were laid, no matter the reason.

“We don’t have all the file numbers for 2017 yet, but we’re expecting something in the vicinity of 25,000 files,” Sgt. Wendy Smith told CBC News.

Smith leads the sexual assault review team, which has already expanded from four to 17 members, not including a few other Mounties volunteering to put in some overtime re-examining old cases.

In a report about the 2016 file review, the RCMP said of the 2,225 unfounded cases, officers identified 284 files for further investigation.

The review team found some investigations lacked sufficient documentation explaining how the case was pursued, why it was classified as unfounded, as well as cases where investigators seemed to lack knowledge of consent law.

“During the investigation, not always was a statement taken. That was one issue. Sometimes some of the files or the investigations lacked sufficient supervisory oversight,” Smith said.

“Reviewers noted that some members equated inconsistencies in victims’ statements with dishonesty and demonstrated a general lack of awareness regarding how trauma might affect a victim’s ability to recount events, or how instinctual and unconscious coping strategies may change or mask emotions,” the report says.

Smith said the Mounties will roll out new training for officers on consent case law in early 2018.

Sunny Marriner, executive director of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, said she’s pleased the RCMP is expanding its review beyond those allegations deemed “unfounded.”

“Really what we’re looking at is not case codes. We’re looking at practices, and the practices of investigation can occur everywhere, regardless of how the case was closed,” she said. “So I’m happy that the RCMP are not limiting themselves to unfounded cases, they need to look at everything that did not move forward to charges.”

Advocate case review
Going forward, Marriner said it remains unclear if the RCMP is going to join agencies such as the Ottawa Police Service that have committed to implementing the Philadelphia model of sexual assault case review.

“So in Ottawa, we’re using advocate case review, which means that sexual assault centres, rape crisis centres, the people who work with the survivors and the community every day, are also the people bringing a trauma-informed lens to the review of cases,” Marriner explained.

P.E.I. ‘refining’ how sexual assaults are investigated
Sgt. Smith said the RCMP has not ruled out that approach, including third party reporting for people who aren’t ready to talk to the police.

“It allows the victim to obtain support from either victim services or from other advocacy groups until such a time that they feel that they’re ready to proceed with an investigation,” she said.

The agency involved would send a report to police, which would keep it until the complainant is prepared to move forward.

Standardizing police actions
Police agencies across Canada have been reviewing old cases and committing to new methods of handling sexual assaults since the Globe and Mail published a series of stories that exposed flaws in how officers have handled investigations.

Marriner described it as a “scattershot” approach with no co-ordination among police agencies across the country.

“What I’d like to see is all those different types of policing talking together about implementing best practice models that are similar so that survivors get the same support, treatment and response regardless of where they report in the country,” she told CBC News.

That, Marriner suggested, would take leadership at the national level, from the federal ministers of justice and public safety.

Police to open up case files on inactive sex assaults in unprecedented review by Meghan Potkins, December 9, 2017, Calgary Herald

Calgary police will be one of seven police agencies in the country to allow an independent panel to review unfounded and inactive sexual assault case files in 2018 — an unprecedented move for Canadian law enforcement.

Early in the new year, a group of women, experts in sexual violence who work with victims every day, will gather at police headquarters to spend a few days combing through stacks of case files on unfounded or inactive sex assault investigations.

They’ve been granted access to unredacted case files as part of a national pilot project aimed at providing an independent review of police cases involving sexual violence.

“It’s really critical that we try and help victims of sexual violence feel more confident in the criminal justice system,” says Sarah MacDonald, a forensic psychologist and a member of Calgary’s review panel.

“Right now, there is a bit of crisis across the country concerning victims’ confidence in the criminal justice system.”

And while victims continue to be reticent to come forward — whether out of fear of judgement, mistrust of the justice system, or reluctance to report a loved one — there are signs that more are willing to come forward than ever before. [Canada’s “justice” system – criminal and civil – is falling apart. Appreciative citizens need to send thank yous to “Knees Together” Ex-Justice Robin Camp for getting the dirty unjust ball unraveling]

The Calgary police sex crimes unit has seen a significant increase in investigations and calls to assist other departments on sexual violence-related matters.

From around 297 files in all of 2016, to around 364 already this year.

“We could potentially could close out the year hitting around just under the 400 mark, which is a substantial increase compared to last year,” says Staff Sgt. Bruce Walker with the CPS’ sex crimes unit.

“With everything that’s been going on nationally, and in North America, I think people are maybe feeling more comfortable coming forward.

“But it’s still the most underreported crime there is.”

[For incredibly obvious reasons.

Read Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin’s recent horrific public statements to experience some of those reasons:

2017 10 31: Enabling sexual predators? Enabling Canadian judges revictimizing sexual assault victims? Enabling Canada’s demented abusive legal system? Threatening sexual assault victims to keep silent? Galling, throw-women-back-into-the-cave statements to Criminal Lawyers’ Association by Canada’s Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin ]

And while CPS has relatively low rate of unfounded cases — around nine per cent compared to an average of 18 per cent across the province — Walker says there is a willingness on the force to turn a critical eye to their own work.

The review panel will meet quarterly to review all new unfounded cases and a selection of inactive files. Twice a year, an advisory committee will take the findings from the case files and come up with recommendations for the service.

“Any opportunity for us to learn as a police agency with regard to victim behaviours or any biases that we may have, it certainly a plus for everybody,” Walker says.

The three-year pilot project includes civilian panels working with a half-dozen other police agencies in Ontario, including the Ottawa police. Calgary is the only force participating outside of Ontario and was the first to announce its participation last May.

“It is a huge ask for police services to open up their work in that way,” says Sunny Marriner, project lead and head of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre. “And that’s something that police services in Canada have not done before with violence against women cases particularly.”

Unconscious bias on the part of investigators, the impact of trauma on a victim’s behaviour and the fallibility of memory were identified by committee participants as some of the key influences on the outcome of an investigation.

“Some of it is very much auditing. To sort of see that what is supposed to be there, is there. And then another component is to look through and see if what has been amassed in the case, supports the ultimate conclusion,” Marriner says.

Walker says investigators are passionate about their work and acknowledged there may be some discomfort for police members with the opening up case files to outside scrutiny.

“I think at the end of the day, this is a non-punitive process. This is not about saying, hey this investigation was done poorly — it’s about learning,” Walker says.

“If I go back eight, or even five years, there (was) very little information within policing to talk about victim behaviour and the effects of trauma on the brain during a sexual assault — so some people may feel uncomfortable, but in the end it’s all positive.” [Emphasis added]

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Perhaps police have no time to appropriately investigate and complete their investigations, or press charges when needed, because they’re too busy abusing their power working for law-violating oil companies – on taxpayer’s dime – to harass and intimidate frac harmed Canadians?

2009 02 09: The Intimidation of Ernst: Members of Harper Government’s Anti-terrorist Squad Intimidate and Harass Ernst after her Legal Papers were Served on Encana, the EUB (now AER) and Alberta Environment

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This post is dedicated to Canadian Jenny Brett, raped in her early teens. The crime went unreported for the obvious reasons and because the abuser’s family was rich and powerful. Jenny committed suicide.

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