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Published on Friday, May 26, 2017

Sex assault cases review by police board continues

Sexual assault cases review expected in June at Halton Police Board

Sex assault cases review by police board continues
Halton Police Board
Halton Police Board reviewing classifications by police of sex assault cases
The Halton Regional Police Services Board will receive a report on its ongoing review of the agency’s sexual assault investigations next month.

Media coverage of Halton and other police services’ handling of sexual assault cases earlier this year, as well as Halton police service’s own investigation, led the local board to conduct its own review into the matter.

A high rate (30 per cent) of ‘unfounded’ sexual assaults in Halton was recently revealed in a Globe and Mail report, which prompted the internal police audit of the handling of sexual assault cases in Halton in 2016.

The province then stepped in and asked all Ontario police services boards, including that in Halton, to conduct their own reviews.

The direction was given to the boards in a letter from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

An update on the review was provided at the board’s monthly meeting on Thursday, May 25.

The Halton review is being led by Julie Moscato, police services board executive director, who is consulting with local community and justice partners on the inquiry, leading to a report that will be submitted to the board for its June 15 meeting.

In addition to members of various Halton police units, the review team includes representatives from Sexual Assault & Violence Intervention Services of Halton, The Halton Violence Prevention Council, Thrive Counselling, Halton Women’s Centre, Nina’s Place, Halton Women’s Place, the Ministry of the Attorney General (Regional Sexual Violence Crown, Central West Region) and Advancement of Women Halton.

The review team met twice this month to roll out plans for the examination.

At the inaugural gathering on May 9, Moscato provided contextual information for the review, and outlined key research themes and draft-suggested recommendations.

Superintendent Anthony Odoardi, commander of Halton police’s Child Abuse and Sexual Assault (CASA) unit, provided an overview of its policies and procedures on sexual assault investigations.

The group discussed the importance of ensuring the voices of sexual assault survivors are heard as part of this review, which was stated in a report given to the board.

A second meeting was held on May 24 to discuss recommendations it wants to submit to the board, as well as a plan to submit them in a report for the June meeting.

The team also wants to engage sexual assault survivors as part of the review and will soon seek their feedback, either in person at a special meeting of the sexual assault review team, in writing or by phone.

Work and collaboration of the review team will be ongoing, according to Moscato.

Moscato meeting with Pam Damoff

Oakville North-Burlington MP Pam Damoff, who sits on the Standing Committee for the Status of Women as vice-chair, will be meeting with Moscato on Thursday, July 6 to discuss the forthcoming report and the board’s review.

The Standing Committee for the Status of Women recently tabled a report on violence against young women and girls, part of which focuses on the challenges sexual assault survivors face when reporting to police.

Sexual assault learning forum

At its April meeting, the services board moved forward with plans for a forum on the issue — titled Sexual Assault: Science, Collaboration and the Provision of Optimal Victim Support — which will be held on Wednesday, June 21 at the Harbour Banquet Centre, 2340 Ontario St., from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The gathering is focused for police and victim advocates, and is expected to include information on Ontario advocate case reviews, trauma-informed policing, as well as a case-review model that originated in Philadelphia and has been successfully used there, according to a recent board report.

As of May 16, 54 people have indicated they would like to attend, including police officers, victim advocate agencies, security guards and community members.

The registration deadline is Tuesday, June 6.

Anyone interested in registering for the forum can email Julie Moscato, HRPS board executive director, at julie.moscato@haltonpolice.ca.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

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