Rob's media library…

A searchable library of posts to give you context for today…

Search tools are below the articles.
Items from your search will appear here.

Published on Monday, June 12, 2017

Board reviewing "unfounded" sex assault charges

Reviewers recommend case reviews by victim advocates

Board reviewing "unfounded" sex assault charges
Halton Regional Police Service
A Halton report includes a recommendation to hold a sexual assault learning forum for police and victim advocates
By Nicole O'Reilly, Hamilton Spectator

Halton police are considering adopting a victim advocate case review that would allow outside experts to regularly weigh in on whether sexual assault cases are closed fairly.

The recommendation is among five in a report going to the police board Thursday, following a request from the board in February to review how sexual assault cases are handled in Halton Region.

It comes amid widespread public discussion about how often police close sexual assault cases as "unfounded" — a crime reporting code that includes when there is not enough evidence or when police do not believe a crime occurred. An investigation by the Globe and Mail found 19 per cent of sexual assault cases across Canada were closed as "unfounded" between 2010 and 2014, with both Halton and Hamilton closing 30 per cent of cases as unfounded during that time.

Halton police Chief Steve Tanner said he's in favour of the case review.

It's too early to say exactly how it will work, but he said he imagines they'd see a team led by victim advocates meeting every few months to review cases closed as unfounded.

This plan mirrors the "Philadelphia model," which is seen as the "gold standard" for how to improve police sexual assault investigations.

"I am happy that the police are putting forward these recommendations ... but it's just a start. There is a lot of work to be done," said Alma Arguello, executive director of Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services of Halton (SAVIS).

In particular, she said the case review "is really needed."

Arguello is among the team of police, justice and social service representatives who are part of the review team that helped inform the report. Her job is to advocate for survivors, who often don't want to report to police.

Police board executive director Julie Moscato, who prepared the report, said the team noticed a number of recurring barriers during their research.

These include the need for training around rape myths, gender bias and the impact of trauma on the brain and memory; better collaboration among agencies including police, courts and social services; and more accountability, especially when cases are closed as unfounded.

The report also includes recommendations to host a sexual assault learning forum for police and victim advocates planned for June 21, establishing a sexual assault advisory committee that would report to the board annually, monitoring how crime statistics are recorded and updating the board's sexual assault investigation policy to include mandatory ongoing training.

Moscato said she expects all of the recommendations could be implemented quickly, with only the advocate case review needing some time to set up.

Halton police have already reviewed their "unfounded" sexual assault cases from 2016 and Tanner said the service is working on reviewing other years going back to 2010.

He's also supporting a call from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police for the government to update crime clearance categories. Currently, there are a number of reasons police might close a case as "unfounded": sometimes it's because the victim doesn't want to pursue charges, sometimes there isn't enough evidence and sometimes police don't believe a crime occurred as reported.

Tanner said police need new categories to capture in better detail why a case might be closed.

Hamilton police have also undertaken reviews of its unfounded cases, made changes, including to how sexual assault officers are trained, and added online reporting for victims.

Halton's review team is seeking feedback from sexual assault survivors on their experiences reporting sexual assault or why they may have chosen not to report. Feedback will be captured in a supplementary report going to the police board in the fall.

To provide feedback, contact Julie Moscato by July 31 at 905-825-4747 ext. 5014,, or to 1151 Bronte Rd., Oakville, Ont., L6M 3L1.

Feedback can also be submitted through an anonymous online form
Rate this article:
No rating
Comments (0)Number of views (581)

Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News




Search Tools below:
Search Box produces articles containing any words you enter.
Media Article Selector allows you to browse all articles by title.
Tags link to frequently searched terms.

Search media library…

Media article browser…

Open a Category for a list of all its articles
or click a Category heading for a selection of its articles


Contact Rob:
Personal email -
Personal vmail - (905) 338-1200
© Copyright Rob Burton 2006—2018 | Terms | Privacy