Edmonton, Alberta – On average, there are about 2500 calls for service relating to sexual violence each year. In 2020, there were 2,973 sexual offences reported to the Alberta RCMP. Sexual Violence Awareness for the month of May began in 2018 when the Government of Alberta launched a commitment to working towards ending sexual violence. In 2019, the Alberta RCMP reviewed and updated their processes related to investigations of sexual violence including increased reviews of active files, identification of high risk situations and created a Sexual Assault Review Coordinator position to oversee investigations, programs and policy responses.
To effectively work with survivors of sexual violence crime, education and understanding about the impact of the crime and the needs of survivors is vital. In an effort to enhance police services to our communities, all members and employees of the Alberta RCMP who have relevant interaction with citizens of our communities, are required to complete two courses relating to trauma-informed approaches. Increasing reporting options at local levels can be helpful for survivors and the Alberta RCMP has been actively working on ways to ensure all survivors have efficient and amenable access to reporting sexual violence crimes.
Having a specialized team for sexual violence cases has been valuable for centralizing service and having specific expertise to support survivors. On September 21, 2020, the Grande Prairie RCMP detachment established the Special Investigations Unit (SIU). The SIU is a dedicated GIS investigative unit who review all domestic violence and sexual assault occurrences in their region and assume investigative control of all penetrative files as well as any files deemed as potentially high-risk. The SIU has had sexual assault survivors come forward specifically because they felt more comfortable to be able to file a report with a specialized unit.
The importance of building and maintaining relationships with community sexual assault centres allows more comprehensive service for the survivors of sexual assault. We work with the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services throughout the province and have working partnerships to deliver the Supportive Reporting Program with Women’s Outreach and Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre for Red Deer, and the Saffron Centre in the Strathcona area in Edmonton. We also have relationships with Child Advocacy Centres and the work they continue to do to support and assist children/youth who experience either physical or sexual abuse. Establishing important relationships in our communities ensures that police have a victim-centered perspective and identify various and common barriers in sexual assault cases.
If you are a survivor of, or witness to, sexual violence or any criminal activity, please report it to local police or contact your nearest sexual assault or Community-Based Victim Services agency for appropriate support and to learn about your reporting options. The dedication of our community partners is vital to the work we are doing collaboratively to support survivors and bring awareness to the public.
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