Amelia Rising partnership strengthened through Survivor Advocate Case Review

Amelia Rising partnership strengthened through Survivor Advocate Case Review

In keeping with its 2017-2020 Strategic Business Plan priorities to police with the trust and confidence of its public and to collaborate with its community partners, the North Bay Police Service announces today that it has strengthened its partnership with the Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing to conduct a survivor advocate case review of its sexual assault investigations.

“This exercise isn’t just about addressing our unfounded statistics,” said Chief Shawn Devine, North Bay Police Service. “This is about demonstrating that we value the expertise of professionals from the violence against women sector and that we are open to strengthening our knowledge of trauma-informed investigation practices in order to improve our response to complainants of sexual assault. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that our police environment is one where survivors feel safe when they come to speak to us about their traumatic experiences, trust that we will believe them, and feel confident that we will charge those who commit violent crimes.” Since 2013, Chief Devine has been a member of the Board of Directors of Amelia Rising, serving as board chair from 2014 to 2016.

“We are so pleased that the North Bay Police Service is so open to this process,” said Brenda Quenneville, Executive Director, Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing. “We strongly believe that the introduction of this step to the investigative process will be beneficial learning for advocates and police alike. We are all working toward the same goal of improving the justice system for survivors of sexual violence.”

Survivor Advocate Case Review
On Monday, June 19th, 2017, a six-member Survivor Advocate Case Review committee met for the first time at police headquarters to independently review a sample of the North Bay Police Service’s sexual assault investigations that date from 2012 to 2017 and that were closed as unfounded.

Invited guests Retired Lieutenant Tom McDevitt, Philadelphia Police Department, Special Victims Unit and Sunny Marriner, Executive Director, Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre provided training and guidance to the committee, based on their experience with the Philadelphia Model and knowledge of trauma-informed investigations. The committee will continue to meet to review more unfounded cases, with the goal of completing a review of 20% of all unfounded cases from 2012 to 2017. Moving forward, the committee will meet on an annual basis to review sexual assault investigations closed as unfounded during that calendar year.

Expertise shared with neighbouring communities
On Tuesday, June 20th, 2017, the North Bay Police Service and the Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing are co-hosting a full-day of presentations at the Best Western in North Bay. The audience of approximately 45 attendees, will consist of professionals from the violence against women sector and crown attorneys from across Northeastern Ontario, as well as police officers from the North Bay Police Service, Timmins Police Service, Greater Sudbury Police Service, Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, Espanola Police Service, West Nipissing Police, 22 Military Police and the local Ontario Provincial Police. The goal is to introduce our neighbouring communities to the steps we are taking to review our investigations and to share knowledge and best practices.

Presentations include:

  • “Bill C-51: An Act to Amend the Criminal Code for Sexual Assault” by Paul Larsh, North Region Sexual Violence Crown Attorney
  • “Violence Against Women Case Review Philadelphia Model and Practice” by Retired Lieutenant Tom McDevitt, Philadelphia Police Department, Special Victims Unit; and
  • “Violence Against Women Case Review Canadian Context” by Sunny Marriner, Executive Director, Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre.

Definition of unfounded
As described in the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics’ Uniform Crime Reporting Incident Based Survey (January 2016), “an incident is unfounded if it has been determined through investigation that no violations of the law took place at that time or location.”

Acknowledgement
Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing gratefully acknowledges the support of the Department of Justice Canada, which provided project funding, through its Victims Fund, for the committee to conduct its Survivor Advocate Case Review.