Sexual assault victims can now report to partner community agencies: police
Winnipeg police, the province and community groups have announced a new way for victims of sexual assault to report the crime, even if they do not want to have contact with police or have the incident be dealt with by the courts.
A third party reporting system will allow victims to report a sexual assault offense to a partnership agency in the community that will pass the information on to police, without naming the victim.
Police said it will allow them to enter the information into a national database used to track violent offenders, the VICLAS system, and potentially “identify offenders or trends that might otherwise have gone unreported.”
“We know historically that women have faced incredible barriers when they have shared their story and sought out prosecution, so we are just providing tools and support for women through third-party reporting,” said Manitoba’s Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Rochelle Squires at the announcement Monday.
Earlier this month, Squires shared the story of being raped at age 13, saying that she was unable to tell anyone at the time and only disclosed what she had survived to a therapist when she was in her 30s.
When she spoke to media about the assault, she said the province was looking to follow British Columbia’s lead to bring in third-party reporting.
At the announcement Monday, Squires said advocates in that province said “that had there been third party reporting available, there would have been perhaps an identification of a trend and perhaps an arrest made earlier in the case of two very high profile serial rapists.”
“So we do think that it is, most important, first and foremost, a tool for survivors, and giving options back to people who have had so many options taken away from them. But it will also be a tool for law enforcement.”
Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women, says less than 5 % of people report an incident of sexual assault. Calls today a step forward. pic.twitter.com/PN7DbCVUfu— Sarah Plowman (@SarahPlowmanCTV) April 16, 2018
The three agencies in Winnipeg that will be available for reporting in Winnipeg are Klinic Community Health Centre, Sage House at Mount Carmel Clinic and Heart Medicine Lodge, which is part of Ka Ni Kanichihk.
Police said Manitoba RCMP is also working with community groups who provide victims' services to bring rural Manitobans the option of third party reporting.
With files from CTV's Sarah Plowman/The Canadian Press