Canadian Forces Military Police report initial results from the Sexual Assault Review Program (SARP)
April 10, 2019 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM), is announcing the initial results of the work completed by the SARP External Review Team (ERT).
The review was conducted over a 10 day period in December 2018. Along with facilitators from the CFNIS, members of the ERT included a civilian crown prosecutor specializing in Sexual Assault prosecutions, a victim/violence against women advocate, a team leader from the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) and a primary care nurse with the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. All members of the team underwent initial training and were subsequently provided access to all unfounded sexual assault investigative files from 2010 to 2016 for their review.
The ERT reviewed 67 of the 1131 files. Their initial findings reaffirmed that for the most part files were properly coded as unfounded at the time of conclusion. However due to recent changes in clearance coding from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) they made recommendation to amend the clearance status of some files. Over the course of the file review the ERT commented that MP investigators developed very good rapport with the victim, validating the continued need for trauma informed sexual assault investigation training, which was proactively adopted by the CFNIS in 2016.
Preparations are now underway for the ERT to conduct its second review session, which will include the remaining 46 files from 2010-2016 as well as all unfounded sexual assault files from 2017 and 2018.
1 This total number stems from an internal review that was completed in June 2018 by the CFNIS. As announced in November 2018, 179 files from 2010 to 2016 had been coded as unfounded. An internal review of those files had found that 23 files required additional review, 43 files needed to be re-coded, and 113 files remained unfounded.
“The implementation of independent file reviews is quickly becoming recognized as a best practice in sexual assault investigations across Canada. It’s heartening to see the Canadian Forces working, along with other levels of policing, for transparency and accountability to survivors who take on the difficult task of reporting. During the review we saw many strong examples of CFNIS rapport-building with complainants, and a commitment to deepening the service’s knowledge of trauma-informed interviewing to support victim ability to come forward.
My goal as an advocate is to ensure that regardless of where or to what force a survivor of sexual violence reports in Canada, the same standards of investigation and transparency are applied. The work of CFNIS’ External Review Team is a good first step in that direction.”
Sunny Marriner, Project Lead – Violence against Women (VAW) Advocate Case Review
“Being part of the External Review Team was a unique opportunity to share feedback and make recommendations regarding best practices in the field of sexual violence and trauma. Trauma-informed investigations are beneficial both for the individual who is reporting the sexual assault, as well as for investigators, in helping them lead more productive sexual assault investigations. The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre looks forward to future collaboration with the CFNIS in this capacity.”
Elizabeth Cyr – Team Leader, Sexual Misconduct Response Centre
“This was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in the CAF as an advocate for forensic nursing. The multi-disciplinary collaboration provided an opportunity to share different perspectives and to support future endeavours.” “Even though it is a difficult subject matter, it was uplifting to work with likeminded individuals who instantly gelled into a cohesive review team.”
Capt Teresa Rodd, Primary Care Nurse Canadian Forces Health Services
"I am very pleased at the progress of the ERT to date and their professionalism and commitment to assist us in continuing to elevate investigative standards and quality of services to victims. Their efforts will in no small part assist us in continuing to improve our investigative processes and support to victims”
Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Cadman, Commanding Officer, Canadian Forces National Investigation Service
The intent of the SARP is to implement an open and transparent case review model of unfounded sexual assault investigations to include an external review team of stakeholders with case file access.
The goals of SARP are to validate the unfounded coding and conduct a substantive review of the investigation.
A majority of CFNIS investigations are for allegations of criminal sexual offences. The Sexual Offence Response Team (SORT), created in 2016, provides investigators with a nucleus of expertise regarding historical investigative techniques; new trends in law enforcement concerning sexually based offences; and best practices for future sexual related investigations.
In addition to standard training received by all investigators in the CFNIS, members of the SORT also receive specialized training in investigating sexual assault; physical abuse and child death; investigating offences against children; investigative and forensic interviewing techniques; and trauma informed care training.
Frontline Military Police remain a key part of the investigative process as they are often the first point of contact for victims/complainants in the reporting of any offence. Military Police often interact with victims as they attempt to deal with their trauma. The primary task in those situations is to support and protect the victim.
Any member who has experienced or witnessed harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour of any kind in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has a range of options available to him or her. For more information regarding available services, please visit: http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/caf-community-support-services/sexual-misconduct.page
Maj Jean-Marc Mercier
Public Affairs Officer
Canadian Forces Provost Marshal and Canadian Forces Military Police Group
Department of National Defence
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