In reviewing over 30,000 previous sexual assault investigations, the RCMP found “consistent deficiencies” in the way they were handled – including some instances of victims and suspects not being interviewed.
RCMP Review Of Old $exual Assault
During the review of $exual assault investigations that did not result in charges and took place between 2015 and 2017, 327 files were sent for further investigation – or one per cent of all files. Twenty-six charges were sworn against 242 of these.
It must be clarified that although this number appears low when compared to the total number of file reviews, the recommendation was only made when serious investigative issues had been identified, and where it was assessed that additional steps could possibly lead to a different result,” said RCMP spokesperson Robin Percival in an email to CBC News.
An explosive Globe and Mail report uncovered flaws in the way police across Canada handle sexual assault allegations, which led the RCMP to promise an examination of past investigations.
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RCMP announced in 2017 it would conduct a review of past $exual assault cases to identify inadequacies in investigative processes. RCMP said its review of some files identified gaps in training and oversight, which required action.
According to Percival, the RCMP discovered that no victim interviews were conducted in some cases, while convicts did not interview the suspect in others.
Additionally, the review team noted instances of exhibits not being submitted for laboratory analysis and a lack of documentation in some cases.
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In some cases, officers failed to use the RCMP’s violent crime linkage analysis system, which is meant to help investigators identify serial crimes and criminals.
Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of the Vancouver-based Battered Women’s Support Services, said the findings are not at all surprising.
“Those findings would be consistent with what we see on the frontline every day,” she said. “What we end doing most of the time having to advocate with the police for them to follow their own policies and procedures, such as a proper investigation.”
But pushing back on police and demanding reviews takes time, she said.
“Just how much time does anybody have in their day in terms of holding police accountable for what is their job?” she said.
“To what extent can survivors expect that the criminal legal system will [offer] a measure of justice?”
Percival said the review team used a three-step system to comb through the cases. They’d start by examining an electronic file and flagging any investigative deficiencies. If a reviewer believed a file was not investigated appropriately, it was sent for a secondary review.
A smaller group of reviewers was then tasked with recommending specific files for follow-up. Individual reviewers then determined whether additional investigation could change the outcome for specific files, and made recomendations based on that.