One-third of the 263 sexual assaults reported to Calgary police between January and March of this year are being reviewed as part of the Calgary Police Service’s (CPS) new approach to unfounded sexual assaults.
CPS announced in May it had adopted a model developed in Philadelphia to review sexual assault cases that didn’t proceed — meaning they were either unfounded or the case was closed for some reason.
Thursday was Day four of the five-day review of 89 such cases reported to police during the first three months of the year. The review is being conducted with the help of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse and a representative from the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre.
As the committee walks through every step of each case’s investigation, it’s also looking at ways to improve training and make sure the cases are tracked properly.
There is a possibility that some cases could be reopened, police said.
“It’s to provide a safety net, a last link in the investigative chain to ensure that every case has been looked at with all possible lenses before that case is closed,” Sonny Marriner with the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre said.
“Ideally, if there are cases where there are additional investigative steps that could be taken, or there’s additional evidence that may be able to support a finding of reasonable and probable grounds for a charge, then the review team will hopefully catch [that].”
CPS said it’s also making improvements to the training investigators receive when it comes to dealing with victims. They have also designated a sexual offence co-ordinator officer to make sure all reported sexual offences are being investigated and tracked properly.
“In Calgary, a sexual assault complaint should only be classified as unfounded when a police investigation has determined that the offence reported did not occur and was not attempted and that no other criminal offence occurred at the reported time and location,” police said in a news release.
Calgary is the first city outside of Ontario to participate in the pilot program, which is funded by the federal government.
The review is expected to continue until Friday.
— With files from Global News’ Nancy Hixt
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