Kelowna, BC – Following reports that identified Kelowna as having a high number of unfounded sexual assault files compared to the provincial average, the RCMP National Headquarters Sexual Assault Review Team (SART) reviewed Kelowna sexual assault files from 2018 and 2019.
The SART reviewed 30 files from 2018, and 36 files from 2019 files to ensure they were complete, accurately documented and appropriately classified within the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) survey. Uniform Crime Reporting is the system used by all police in Canada to record the type of reported criminal offence, whether the reported crime is founded or unfounded, and if the reported crime has been concluded. This information is then shared with Statistics Canada through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey to track crime statistics in Canada.
The SART has completed the review and shared the results and recommendations with Kelowna detachment and the BC RCMP.
2018 file review:
13 files remain unfounded
12 files were incorrectly scored
5 files were recommended for further investigation.
2019 file review:
12 files remain unfounded
17 file were incorrectly scored
7 files were recommended for further investigation.
The use of the wrong UCR codes was the most common issue identified during the review. Based on the SART review and the correction in the classification of files Kelowna’s unfounded sexual assault rate is fact in line with the provincial average.
What we’re doing about it
Based on the SART recommendations, any files that were identified for additional investigation will be investigated further. This has already started.
Beginning in March, Kelowna RCMP employees who work with UCR scoring will have additional training on UCR code input. 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.
As part of the Kelowna RCMP’s ongoing quality assurance process a review of the Kelowna Detachment, specific to the quality of investigations and supervision, will also be conducted. This review will provide a baseline for further guidance and training opportunities for the Kelowna RCMP.
Since November, the detachment has engaged SART and representatives from RCMP National Headquarters Information and Technology Data Quality unit to ensure Kelowna is maintaining standards consistent with other policing agencies. It is anticipated that the increased training and ongoing consultation will help increase the quality of sexual assault investigations and UCR scoring.
In January, the Child Abuse Unit relocated to the new Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) where they work collaboratively with MCFD, Interior Health and EFry. The Kelowna RCMP is one of the founding members of the CAC and our members have worked hard with the community to make the centre a reality. The CAC works to raise awareness and provide training to professionals, including police, with the goal of reducing the abuse and neglect of children. The CAC strives to be a centre of excellence putting support of children first and always approaching child survivors and their families from a trauma informed perspective.
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. These members will work closely with community partners such as the Elizabeth Fry Society (EFry) and Crown Counsel, our domestic violence unit and the new Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre (CAC).
Prior the SART review of the sexual assault files, Kelowna RCMP began to plan to remodel its General Investigation unit to provide better support to frontline members and enhance overall policing service. This month an eight person, plain clothes, General Investigation Support Team (GIST) will be created to work directly with frontline members. Four more members will augment this unit later this year.
The GIST model is used by larger BC RCMP detachments to:
enhance the quality of investigations
increase supervision and oversight of more complex investigations
develop investigative knowledge, skills and abilities of frontline members through guidance and mentorship.
The Kelowna RCMP remain steadfast in our commitment to improving internal processes, educating and training employees on sexual assault investigations.
Sexual assault complaints can be extremely difficult and complicated investigations that cover a broad spectrum of offences. They are especially troubling crimes due to the personal and intimate nature of the offence.
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. Kelowna RCMP take all reports of sexual violence seriously and will thoroughly investigate any report brought forward.
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