‘Unfounded’ sex assaults in Stratford below national average

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The reason for such a high rate of “unfounded” sexual assault occurrences in Stratford is “an issue” with how those cases were coded, according to the just-released review from the Stratford Police Service.

The multi-stage review of sexual assault occurrences from 2010 to 2014 showed that Stratford police had a problem with how these incidents were reported and coded through the Unified Crime Reporting survey.

After an initial internal review by Stratford police – and an external review by the Peel Regional Police – the accurate number of cases determined to be unfounded was actually 21 of 114 – or 18.4 per cent – which was slightly below the national average of 19 per cent.

“The investigations of sexual assaults are conducted by detectives assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division, and are done with integrity, professionalism and a focus on justice and victim care,” said Stratford police Chief Mike Bellai in a release. “There is always room for improvement as we constantly look for ways to better serve our community.”

The review, which began in February of this year, also involved collaboration with Optimism Place, the Emily Murphy Centre, a sexual assault working group, and Stratford police staff.

In the release, the police service committed to continuing its partnerships with these community agencies to “ensure victims of all crimes receive the best care possible.” The release also confirmed the service’s intent to work with Optimism Place to implement the Philadelphia model of advocate care review of sexual assault cases.

The review also contains a number of other recommendations, including improved accuracy in the reporting, clearing and coding of sexual assaults to the Unified Crime Reporting survey, additional training for officers, and improved care and advocacy for victims.


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