New funding aims to improve tracking and reporting of sexual assaults
New funding for a project that will improve the tracking and reporting of sexual assaults by law enforcement authorities in Ontario communities was announced recently as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
Under this project, the Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) will work with police services, women’s sexual assault centres and shelter networks to pilot the Philadelphia Model at five sites in Ontario communities.
The Philadelphia Model is a collaborative review process that allows outside experts to review police case files to help identify any missteps in the investigative process and alert investigators to worrying trends. It was first used in the U.S. in 2000 after an investigation by The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed police in that city were dismissing a disproportionately high number of sexual assault complaints as unfounded. This approach has resulted in a decrease in the number of misclassified sexual assault cases in the United States, according to the feds.
“With this new funding, we can position frontline expertise at the forefront, and start the process of building a more responsive justice system,” said Sunny Marriner, executive director, Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre. “Public trust is paramount and this model has illustrated an ability to foster collaboration and enhance policing.”
OCTEVAW will receive $399,500 in funding through Status of Women Canada to adapt the Philadelphia Model to the Canadian context and pilot it at five sites in Ontario, including Ottawa.
The money was awarded through the Funding to Advance Gender Equality call for proposals and follows the release of “It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence” in June.
In 2017, an investigation by the Globe and Mail examined why police dismiss one out of every five sexual-assaults claims as unfounded. Data was gathered from more than 870 police forces.