Canadian Forces Military Police Unfounded Sexual Assault Internal Review

Backgrounder

Following the Canadian Armed Forces implementation of Operation HONOUR in 2015 and the Globe and Mail article of 2017 the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal directed the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) to conduct an internal review of all sexual assault cases concluded as unfounded. Furthermore, he instructed the Commanding Officer of the CFNIS to act as sole approval authority for the conclusion of unfounded criminal sexual offence investigations.

From early 2017 until mid-2018 an assigned member of the CFNIS reviewed all Canadian Forces Military Police sexual assault files that were concluded as unfounded between 2010 and 2016. This internal review was conducted to confirm investigations complied with investigational standards and that the conclusion of unfounded was an accurate account of the findings of the investigation. 

FINDINGS:

  • From 2010-2016, the Military Police investigated 757 sexual assault cases, 179 (24 percent) of which were classified as unfounded;
  • CFNIS conducted an internal review these 179 investigations which revealed:
    • 113 remained as unfounded post internal review;
    • 43 cases were properly investigated but had been misclassified; and
    • 23 cases were identified for further investigation.

Identified Trends - Misclassified

  • Wrong Unified Crime Reporting (UCR) code utilized
  • Misinterpretation of the clearance code/definition of unfounded
  • File was referred to another, more appropriate, investigative agency
  • Victim did not want to pursue the complaint/investigation

UNFOUNDED RATE:

The CFNIS average rate for unfounded sexual assault cases from 2010-2016 has been declining with the rate dropping from 18 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2016, which is below the average unfounded rate of 19 percent during the same time period for Canadian Policing 1 (Globe and Mail, 2017) .

WAY FORWARD:

The Canadian Forces Military Police are in the final detailed planning stages of a Sexual Assault Review Program (SARP). This program will establish an open and transparent review process of all unfounded sexual assault cases. The SARP will give the external review team, consisting of three to five professionals from relevant fields, access to the entire case file in order to identify any inconsistencies or deficiencies in how the investigations were handled. This approach is expected to significantly enhance the transparency associated with the review and provide accountability to the victims of sexual assault and to the public at large. External reviewers are able to act impartially and offer unbiased assessments which will aid in providing additional means for the Military Police to ensure that investigative requirements were, and will continue to be, consistently met.  

The SARP, which is to be launched in late Fall 2018, will commence with the external review team conducting an analysis of the work done by this internal review. Following the retrospective review of the investigations identified, the requirement to continue to conduct future reviews of all unfounded sexual assault cases investigated by Military Police will be assessed on a yearly basis.


1. Globe and Mail. (2017). Unfounded: Will the Police Believe You? Toronto: Globe and Mail.


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