Kelowna RCMP is continuing to look into unfounded reports of sexual assault in the city but is yet to provide answers on why local stats are more than double the provincial average.
The RCMP said it received 82 reports of sexual assault in Kelowna in 2018, 30 of which were deemed unfounded.
“We understand that there are many questions about the roots of these statistics, and we’re taking immediate steps to get answers,” says Cpl. Meghan Foster of the Kelowna RCMP.
“The BC RCMP has conducted a preliminary review of these files, but we are currently not in a position to provide specific examples of why any of these investigations were deemed unfounded. For every investigation, there are many variables — each investigation is different and we do not want to deter any other survivors from bravely coming forward to report a sexual assault.”
While the RCMP said it encourages sexual assault survivors to report these crimes, there are times when charges may not be laid. It added that reports of assaults contribute to police records, which can help further other investigations and identify repeat offenders.
“We are aware that people may find the number of unfounded sexual assault files unsettling, and we are committed to ensuring the public that we are accountable for our investigations,” continued Foster. “In addition to the preliminary review of these files, Kelowna RCMP has requested that the RCMP’s Sexual Assault Review Team at National Headquarters review our 2018 and 2019 unfounded sexual assault files.”
After a Globe and Mail series called Unfounded was published in 2017, the RCMP formed the Sexual Assault Review Team, a group of experienced sexual assault investigators and experts in gender-based violence. The team is meant to look at each file to ensure that all investigative steps were followed and that the file was categorized correctly.
“If this review indicates that not all investigative steps were followed, the file will be designated for a secondary review to determine what additional steps need to be taken by investigators and will be sent back to the BC RCMP for further review and/or investigation,” stated the RCMP in a release.
“Sexual assault is a devastating crime, and the RCMP is committed to improving how its employees respond to victims and investigate allegations of sexual assault.”
The RCMP encourages anyone who feels that their case was not investigated properly to go to their local detachment and request a review. If a victim is not satisfied with the RCMP review, complaints can be made through the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP at crcc-ccetp.gc.ca.