Kelowna mayor faces backlash over support of RCMP after high unfounded rate released | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna mayor faces backlash over support of RCMP after high unfounded rate released

Kelowna mayor Colin Basran is stepping back comments about unfounded rate.
November 15, 2019 - 9:28 AM

Kelowna's mayor is stepping back from statements he made in the aftermath of the city's unfounded statistics being revealed.

For 2018, Kelowna's unfounded rate was at about 36 per cent, with 30 out of 82 reports of sexual assault complaints being dismissed by investigators. It's a staggeringly high figure when compared to the provincial average of about 15 per cent and a national average of 14 per cent. Unfounded is a designation applied when officers determine through investigation that an offence did not occur.

Basran originally told multiple media outlets that he was confident in the local RCMP's investigation process. Now he's not so sure.

“I want to address my earlier comments about the number of reports of sexual assault deemed to be unfounded at the Kelowna RCMP detachment. I am sorry and offer my sincere apology to anyone offended or hurt by my initial reaction to this news," Basran said in a statement emailed to media outlets, Nov. 15.

"The number of local sex assault complaints deemed to be unfounded is deeply concerning and I know the local detachment is taking this matter seriously. In retrospect, I should have waited for the results of an investigation into the matter before expressing my opinion."

Cpl. Meghan Foster has said the Sexual Assault Review Team will look at each file to ensure that all investigative steps were followed and that the file was properly categorized within the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

“While the RCMP operates independently of the City of Kelowna, it is the City’s responsibility to ensure matters of concern to our citizens are being addressed. I have directed staff to stay in close contact with RCMP on this issue until a review is concluded," Basran said.

“I support what the Kelowna RCMP has done in response to this new information from Statistics Canada – starting with an internal review and a subsequent request to have the RCMP’s Sexual Assault Review Team at national headquarters review the 2018 and 2019 files. That review will determine the RCMP's next steps.

“It’s my understanding that the RCMP will report out once the investigation is complete and I’ll wait until that happens before commenting further.”

If this review indicates that not all investigative steps were followed, the file will be designated for a secondary review to determine what additional steps need to be taken by investigators and will be sent back to the B.C. RCMP for further review and/or investigation.

“We understand that there are many questions about the roots of these statistics, and we’re taking immediate steps to get answers,” Foster said.

“The B.C. RCMP has conducted a preliminary review of these files, but we are currently not in a position to provide specific examples of why any of these investigations were deemed unfounded. For every investigation there are many variables — each investigation is different and we do not want to deter any other survivors from bravely coming forward to report a sexual assault.”

Sexual assaults are among the least likely crimes to be reported to police.

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