City po­lice told to re­view ‘un­founded’ cases

Mayor trou­bled by re­port of dis­missed sex as­sault com­plaints

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN

Hamilton’s po­lice board has di­rected the ser­vice to re­view “un­founded” sex­ual as­sault cases dat­ing back to 2010.

Statis­tics pub­lished in a re­cent spe­cial Globe and Mail re­port say 30 per cent of all sex­ual as­sault claims in­ves­ti­gated by Hamilton po­lice be­tween 2010 and 2014 were dis­missed as “un­founded.”

That means po­lice be­lieve the al­leged crime was not at­tempted or did not oc­cur.

Hamilton po­lice have since ar­gued a more “de­tailed anal­y­sis” of in­ter­nal sex­ual as­sault statis­tics shows the num­ber of un­founded cases is ac­tu­ally drop­ping, from 24.8 per cent in 2010 to 16.5 per cent last year.

Po­lice Chief Eric Girt at­trib­uted the dis­crep­ancy to dif­fer­ences in re­port­ing re­quire­ments be­tween the Uni­form Crime Re­port­ing Sur­vey, a stan­dard­ized sur­vey used by po­lice ser­vices across Canada, and the sex as­sault unit’s own records.

Re­gard­less, the na­tion­ally re­ported num­bers “set off alarm sig­nals,” said Mayor Fred Eisen­berger, who sits on the po­lice board. He put for­ward a mo­tion, sup­ported unan­i­mously by the board, ask­ing po­lice to re­view all un­founded cases go­ing back to 2010. Po­lice brass es­ti­mated the re­view would re­quire a sec­ond look at more than 700 cases.

Pre­vi­ously, Insp. Dave Hen­nick told The Spectator the ser­vice had al­ready started re­view­ing its prac­tice and re­port­ing pro­ce­dures af­ter re­ceiv­ing the Globe and Mail’s re­quest for data in 2015.

Hen­nick said sex­ual as­sault de­tec­tives have since un­der­gone train­ing on brain trauma suf­fered by as­sault vic­tims and how cases are logged in the po­lice data­base.

Other po­lice forces have com­mit­ted to re­view­ing un­founded cases, in­clud­ing the OPP, RCMP and the Lon­don Po­lice Ser­vice, which re­ported a sim­i­lar 30 per cent un­founded rate in the na­tional sur­vey.

Lenore Lukasik-Foss, di­rec­tor of the Sex­ual As­sault Cen­tre of Hamilton and Area, called the de­ci­sion “a big deal.”

“I know sur­vivors are talk­ing about this,” she said, adding The Women Abuse Work­ing Group coali­tion had planned to re­quest that po­lice con­duct such a re­view.

“Will they be re­view­ing old in­ter­view footage? En­gag­ing with ad­vo­cates? I re­ally don’t want it to be just a num­bers game,” Lukasik-Foss said, re­fer­ring to the dis­crep­ancy be­tween in­ter­nal and na­tional “un­founded” statis­tics.

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