Canadian News Headlines – Government report into sexual violence cases omits serious problems with police – New Brunswick

Canadian news headlines

The New Brunswick government has released its review into how police handle sexual violence, but left out several serious problems detailed in an internal report obtained by CBC News.

The internal report revealed that officers with the province’s nine municipal police forces don’t seem to understand the elements of many sexual offences they’re investigating.

It also found that police are closing cases without interviewing key witnesses and often give up on investigating allegations too quickly.

The government’s report on cases of unfounded sexual violence doesn’t include that same kind of candid criticism.

“We certainly don’t deny the contents of the [internal] review,” said John Jurcina, the assistant deputy minister of law enforcement and inspections for the Department of Justice and Public Safety.

“It certainly opens our eyes to a lot of the shortcomings, a lot of the gaps in the investigative process. It demonstrates we have opportunities for development in the areas of training, supervision, oversight, investigative technique, coding of files.”

When asked why the public report is missing information, Jurcina said he believes it addresses the shortcomings.

‘Deficiencies’ in RCMP cases

Beth Lyons

Beth Lyons, executive director of the New Brunswick Women’s Council, wants to see the conversation go beyond unfounded cases of sexual assault. (CBC)

The review looked at cases handled by municipal police forces between 2010 and 2014. The majority of the victims were children.

The RCMP also reviewed more than 1,000 cases investigated in New Brunswick between 2011 and 2016.

RCMP reviewers found “some deficiencies” with the majority of the New Brunswick RCMP cases, including a lack of documentation, not interviewing victims or witnesses, and delays in the investigation, according to the report.

Jurcina said the government hasn’t made any changes yet as a result of the reviews.

It has formed a committee of advocates who work with victims of sexual violence. They will take a deeper look at the findings and make suggestions on what to change.

Beyond unfounded

RCMP car

A review into how New Brunswick RCMP handled cases of sexual violence found deficiencies with interviewing witnesses and delays in investigations. (CBC)

The two committee members CBC News spoke to were not surprised to hear police don’t always understand sexual violence.

For them, it echoes what they’ve heard for years from victims.

“The real issue here is not the high rates of cases being found as unfounded,” said Beth Lyons, executive director of the New Brunswick Women’s Council.

“That’s just an entry point into the larger issue, which is the way RCMP, policing and the criminal justice system do not meet the needs of survivors and victims of sexual assault.”

Lyons and Jennifer Richard, director of community development for the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre, would both like to see police forces working with sexual assault advocates as they try to figure out how to improve the way they investigate sexual violence.

The Fredericton Police Force has adopted the Philadelphia Model, which will see staff at the sexual assault centre go through individual cases looking for problems like investigative bias.

Richard said the model is the best way to address issues with the way the system handles sexual violence.

‘The book is wrong’

The government review looked at five years’ worth of unfounded cases.

Richard said the review seemed to focus more on procedure than anything else.

“A lot of the questions were about did the officers go by the book?” she said.

“What we’ve been saying is the book is wrong. There really needs to be a radical shift in how policing responds to sexual violence so that we can better respond to the needs of survivors.”

David Coon

Green Party Leader David Coon has been critical of the criteria the New Brunswick government chose for its review into police handling of sexual violence. (CBC)

Green Party Leader David Coon has previously been critical of the review’s scope, saying it’s a “missed opportunity” to dig deeper into some of the issues that victims have been raising for years.

On Thursday, he said it’s good the government has formed a committee with expertise on the issues.

But he wants to see real action from the provincial government.

“There’s much more that needs to be done right now,” Coon said.

“There definitely needs to be a focus on reforming practices in [the Department of] Social Development because that’s part of the problem right now.”



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Originally posted 2017-12-21 21:07:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter