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Sexual Assault Task Force completes review, report set for June

570 NEWS - Erin Anderson

Progress for our Region’s Sexual Assault Task Force, as a major review and report are now complete.

The task force was spearheaded by Regional Police, and includes representatives and community partners that are at the forefront of the issue.

The goal is to evaluate how local sexual assault cases are handled, establish measures to generate enhanced reporting, and look at the unfounded rates.

Chief Bryan Larkin gave a brief update Wednesday at the Police Services Board meeting, and says the task force consists of two separate working groups.

“One was focused on a community-based model on sexual assaults, so that included a historical review dating back almost 10 years. We did a statistical review of that, and that was led by community members and an investigator from our Special Victims Unit. That work was very intensive – and they have now completed a report.”

In total, 78 cases were reviewed through a random sampling, and the effort took almost 80 hours.

But Larkin says that just speaks to the care and commitment that WRPS have to making change, and moving forward.

“The secondary piece in all of this was developing a memorandum of understanding – so building a model of external review. They have now finished that – and have a consent memorandum of understanding that they’re willing and ready to present.”

Larkin adds the next step is bringing all of the involved stakeholders back together, before all the information is formally presented later this spring.

“Those two committees will work on a consensus model, and then come to the Police Services Board to present the model, and the way forward. That will include trauma-based interviewing, victim centric approaches, and a review model. I have not seen either report yet though – as I want to respect the work of the committees. I think it’s important that its grassroots-driven, and driven from them upwards.”

The Sexual Assault Task Force will meet with the Board and present the findings in June.

It was formed after a concerning report by the Globe and Mail showed that the local unfounded sexual assault rate is 27 per cent – compared to the national average of 19 per cent.