ORILLIA—The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) announced a new Victim Response Support Strategy last week that includes several actions the OPP is taking to improve the response to, and support for, sexual assault victims. The strategy outlines several new initiatives that focus on victim support, investigative excellence and oversight.
“The OPP Victim Response Support Strategy outlines the actions the OPP is taking to ensure victims of sexual assault are able to report their experiences with confidence that they will receive the support and services they need,” said OPP Commissioner J.V.N. (Vince) Hawkes. “The OPP is committed to investigative excellence, strengthening our relationships with community partners and agencies and putting additional accountability measures in place to improve the response to and support for victims.”
Key improvements include: victim support, resources to support informed, responsive officers; victim response and support liaisons; regional leads; a Victim Response Support Unit; research analysts, a Victim Response Support Unit; and regional collaborations.
As well, the improvements include investigative excellence through ongoing training and data integrity; and an Oversight-victim Response Support Unit; regional collaborative review committees; and a provincial stakeholder governance committee.
The OPP Victim Response Support Strategy is the result of the OPP Sexual Assault Data Classification and Investigative Review, which examined sexual assault cases closed by police as unfounded between the years of 2011 and 2016. The review included a directive to reopen any sexual assault report that was found not to be properly investigated.
Of the 5,322 unfounded cases reviewed, 3,463 (65 percent) were cleared correctly, 1,859 (34.9 percent) could potentially have been cleared using another classification and 12 (0.2 percent) were reopened for investigation.