Committee scours files of recent sex offence cases cleared by Calgary Police Service
Members of a Case Review Committee, consisting of the Calgary Police Service and several partnering agencies, have begun their investigation into reported sexual offences from the first three months of 2018 that were cleared without charges.
Of the 263 reported cases of sexual offences in Calgary in January, February and March, the committee is investigating 89 cases where the allegations were determined to be unfounded or were cleared due to a lack of evidence or an unwillingness of the victim to participate in the investigation.
“When we look at these files we look at every aspect of the investigation to see if there’s any training opportunities from human biases or what have you that can be addressed,” said Staff Sergeant Bruce Walker of the CPS sex crimes unit. “Once we start looking at a file, it there’s something there that says more could have been done in this then we will most certainly look at that.”
The committee approach follows the Philadelphia Model, a method adopted by the police department of the city in Pennsylvania in 2001, that has proven successful.
Calgary’s Case Review Committee includes representatives of:
- Calgary Police Service
- Calgary Sexual Assault Response Team (CSART)
- Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse (CCASA)
- Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre
- Mount Royal University Sexual Violence Response and Awareness
Sunny Marriner of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre and the provincial lead of case review in Ontario is also assisting with the five-day effort that was in its fourth day on Thursday. She hopes the fact cases are being reviewed will provide victims of sexual offences with further assurance that their allegations will be invested fully should they choose to report them to police.
“We know that, in Canada, the rates of reporting to police are approximately 5 per cent of all sexual assaults,” said Marriner. "The Philadelphia Model attempts to ensure that by bringing in subject matter experts in sexual violence we're making sure that each investigation follows the exact and full investigative steps at hand before we make a determination about whether it can go forward or not."
“What’s really unique about the Philadelphia Model of review is that it’s evidence-based and is asks us to look at the exact obstacles that are occurring in each community. I can tell you that obstacles that are occurring in Calgary might be very, very different than obstacles that they may experience in Whitehorse.”
The Calgary Police Service has designated an officer as a Sexual Offence Coordinator to ensure all reported sexual offences are investigated properly and appropriately tracked. According to CPS officials, approximately 10 per cent of reported cases of sexual violence are determined to be unfounded.
In addition to Calgary, the implementation of the Philadelphia Model is currently being piloted in 11 other sites in Canada and is being funded by the federal government through 'Status of Women Canada'.
With files from CTV’s Ina Sidhu