Canadian Forces Military Police reports results from the Sexual Assault Review Program case review
August 19, 2019 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Today, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal is announcing that the Sexual Assault Review Program (SARP) External Review Team (ERT) has completed its review of sexual assault cases in the Canadian Armed Forces coded unfounded from 2010-2018. None of the affected files had their outcomes changed nor investigations re-opened.
The ERT was composed of facilitators from the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS), a civilian crown prosecutor specializing in sexual assault prosecutions, a victim/violence against women advocate, a team leader from the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre in the Department of National Defence, and a primary care nurse with the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. A member with Children Protection Aid Society and a member representing the national Cadets and Junior Canadian Rangers also participated in the second phase of the review. The reviews were conducted over a 10-day period in December 2018 and a five day period in May 2019.
Over the course of the file review, the ERT commented that Military Police investigators developed very good rapport with the victims, validating the continued need for trauma informed sexual assault investigation training, which was proactively adopted by the CFNIS in 2016.
The ERT also provided the Commanding Officer of the CFNIS their observations in areas such as policy, training, interviewing, CCJS coding, investigative techniques, infrastructure setting, and legal considerations.
The observations were well received and they are being analyzed with a view to implementing the lessons learned.
“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 encourage victims 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.”
Captain Teresa Rodd, Primary Care Nurse Canadian Forces Health Services.
"I was privileged to be involved with this important Canadian Armed Forces initiative to review historical unfounded sexual assault cases, including cases involving young persons and pleased to see the positive progress that is being made to ensure that investigations are conducted and coded appropriately. It is reassuring to know that the External Review Team observations will be considered and incorporated into future CFNIS training and potentially with more education oriented toward investigating cases involving youths.”
Captain Elizabeth Hailstone, National Cadet Junior Rangerrs Support Group
"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 Sexual Assault Review Program (SARP) was to implement an open and transparent case review model of unfounded sexual assault investigations with an external review team of stakeholders with case file access.
The goals of SARP was to validate the unfounded coding and conduct a substantive review of the investigation.
A majority of CFNIS investigations relate to 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 the Operation HONOUR site.
Lt(N) Michèle Tremblay
Public Affairs Officer
Canadian Forces Provost Marshal and Canadian Forces Military Police Group
Department of National Defence
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