Peel Regional Police has concluded an internal review of all sexual assault cases classified as “unfounded” dating back to 2010. The review was initiated in February after media reported that a large number of sexual assault cases in Canada were being classified as ‘unfounded’. Chief Jennifer Evans immediately ordered an internal review.
“I want to assure victims that we take every sexual assault complaint seriously. The review revealed that some cases in Peel were incorrectly categorized. Through this process we have enhanced our training, policies, and procedures and have strengthened our relationships with our community partners.” said Chief Jennifer Evans.
A team of senior investigators examined a total of 4,180 sexual assault cases. Of those, 1,016 (24.3%) cases were originally classified as ‘unfounded’. The review revealed that 273 cases were incorrectly classified. As a result, these cases have been reclassified making the unfounded rate 17.9%.
Following the internal review we implemented a number of recommendations, including the following:
• Administrative training on case classification practices;
• Validating accuracy with an approvals process before submitting to Statistics Canada;
• Updating policies to ensure the Uniform Crime Reporting definition of “unfounded” is clear and consistent.
• Oversight requiring authorization from supervisors prior to classifying cases as ‘unfounded’.
• Conducting bi-annual audits of all ‘unfounded’ sexual assault cases together with our community partners.
• Developing a process to expand our partnerships with external agencies. They include those involved with victims of sexual assault, child abuse and violence towards women to collaborate and discuss future strategies.
• Increasing the number of officers trained on conducting sexual assault investigations.
• Developing a strategy to help victims feel more comfortable reporting incidents to police.
Peel Regional Police has long-standing relationships with organizations that support victims of sexual crimes, including Victims Services of Peel (VSOP) and the Peel Committee Against Women Abuse (PCAWA). We value these partnerships and have been in communication throughout the review.
“PCAWA would like to acknowledge the work Chief Evans and Peel Regional Police have done in conducting the internal review of the “unfounded” cases in Peel Region. We are encouraged that Peel Regional Police will work towards taking all the steps necessary to ensure that survivors of sexual violence will receive the appropriate and sensitive response they require, including effective supports when they seek justice. PCAWA looks forward to participating in the audits of unfounded cases to identify where opportunities exist in creating better outcomes for survivors who report sexual violence in Peel Region” said Sharon Floyd Co-Chair PCAWA.
We will continue to work together to improve processes and ensure that all victims are treated with respect and that all investigations are conducted with sensitivity and professionalism. Together we will develop and provide additional training to meet on-going demands.
Background on Sexual Assault Case Classification:
After a sexual assault investigation is closed, Peel Regional Police are federally mandated to follow Uniform Crime Reporting standards and classify a case into one of 15 categories. The classifications are defined by and reported to Statistics Canada and ‘unfounded’ is one of those classifications. The definition as defined by Statistics Canada is as follows:
‘Unfounded’: the police investigation revealed “that the offence reported did not occur, nor was it attempted and therefore no violations of the Criminal Code or other federal statute took place at that time or location”.
For a full list of Uniform Crime Reporting definitions, click here.