Kelowna Mounties initiate review of unfounded sex assault files | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna Mounties initiate review of unfounded sex assault files

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November 08, 2019 - 2:28 PM

Kelowna Mounties have come under fire in recent weeks for the high number of unfounded sexual assault cases and now they are requesting that the Sexual Assault Review Team at National Headquarters review them.

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.

Cpl. Meghan Foster 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.

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.”

READ MORE: Elizabeth Fry questions RCMP methods

Foster said the RCMP encourage survivors of sexual assault to report these crimes to police. There are times when charges may not be laid, but reports of assaults can help to contribute to police records, which may help to further other investigations and identify repeat offenders.

“We are aware that people may find the number of unfounded sexual assault files unsettling, and we are committed to ensuring the public that we are accountable for our investigations,” Foster said.

“In addition to the preliminary review of these files, Kelowna RCMP has requested that the RCMP’s Sexual Assault Review Team at National Headquarters review our 2018 and 2019 unfounded sexual assault files.”

The Sexual Assault Review Team was formed to review RCMP sexual assault files after the Globe and Mail’s “Unfounded” series was published.

The team is made up of experienced sexual assault investigators and experts in gender based-violence. Sexual assault is a devastating crime, and the RCMP is committed to improving how its employees respond to victims and investigate allegations of sexual assault. As previously said, the RCMP wants to ensure that all survivors of sexual assault feel comfortable bringing their allegations to the RCMP, receive the same standard of care regardless of jurisdiction, and trust investigators to thoroughly and professionally investigate these crimes.

Anyone who feels that their case was not investigated properly can go to their local RCMP detachment and request a review of their file.

Should a victim not be satisfied with the RCMP review, they can make a complaint through the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP by going to its website here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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