UPDATE: Kelowna RCMP will investigate 12 sexual assault cases after review - InfoNews

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UPDATE: Kelowna RCMP will investigate 12 sexual assault cases after review

February 27, 2020 - 2:19 PM

A review of Kelowna RCMP’s handling of sexual assault cases in 2018 and 2019 shows that almost half were coded wrong but that a dozen cases need further investigation.

The review was conducted by a national RCMP Sexual Assault Review Team. That review was given to Kelowna RCMP a month ago and findings were released today, Feb. 27.  It was triggered by an earlier report that that roughly 40 per cent of sexual assault charges were ruled as unfounded in Kelowna versus a national average of about 15 per cent. Unfounded is intended to mean the investigator has determined there was no crime involved or no evidence.

“Based on the SART (Sexual Assault Review Team) review and the correction in the classification of files Kelowna’s unfounded sexual assault rate is in fact in line with the provincial average,” an RCMP news release stated.

Of 66 cases that were reviewed, the study says 25 were, in fact, unfounded. Another 29 were incorrectly scored. The use of incorrect codes was determined to be the main cause of the scoring errors.

But 12 charges, five from 2018 and seven from 2019, need further investigation, the release stated, a process that has already started.

Starting in March, RCMP employees who work with the Uniform Crime Reporting system will get more training on its use.

“In addition, all Kelowna RCMP members are in the process of receiving additional training with respect to sexual consent law, and additional training, formal and informal, on trauma-informed practices and bias awareness,” the release stated. “This March, the Kelowna RCMP will create a dedicated Sexual Assault Unit to provide investigative support to frontline officers.

The unit will be responsible for reviewing all sexual assault files to ensure all investigations are consistent, complete, accurately documented, trauma-informed and scored correctly. This team will provide Kelowna Detachment with in-house expertise in sexual assault and investigative best practices, including bias awareness.The unit will be responsible for reviewing all sexual assault files to ensure all investigations are consistent, complete, accurately documented, trauma-informed and scored correctly. This team will provide Kelowna Detachment with in-house expertise in sexual assault and investigative best practices, including bias awareness."

The release goes on to say that sexual assault complaints can be extremely difficult and complicated investigations.

"The dedicated women and men at Kelowna Detachment are committed to helping their community and providing a quality police service that everyone can trust, especially when it comes to reporting sexual assaults," the release states. "Kelowna RCMP take all reports of sexual violence seriously and will thoroughly investigate any report brought forward."

The release of the findings comes just days after a small protest about “rape culture” was held in Kelowna city council chambers and Mayor Colin Basran told media the findings should be made public.

"“I want to thank and recognize the women who came forward to speak out on their experiences – it took courage and it will make a difference to those who come forward in the future," Basran said in a news release. "It’s Council’s expectation that everyone is dealt with fairly and with dignity. 

“Public safety is Council’s top priority and we expect any contractor working for the City to ensure its operations meet that expectation. While respecting the RCMP is an arms-length federal agency, the City is in discussion with the detachment regarding its performance management reporting as an important component of the RCMP’s service to our community.”

 - This story was updated at 4:05 p.m. Feb. 27, 2019 to include comment from Mayor Colin Basran.


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