Moose Jaw will become only the third city in Saskatchewan to have its police force take part in a sexual assault victim advocate case review program.
The program entails a committee of community members and agencies with knowledge of intimate partner violence that reviews sexual assault complaints to the Moose Jaw Police Service that don’t result in charges.
“We're very excited about this. It’s an initiative that’s coming to us out of Ontario,” said Chief Rick Bourassa.
Once the reviews are done, the committee reports back to the police force on what was done well and what the police could have improved on.
“It will conduct reviews quarterly. They have space set up in our building that has access to computers and everything. We're looking forward to having an additional set of eyes on our investigations of sexual assaults to make sure we're getting to the right place,” Bourassa said.
The chief added that there are a number of reasons that a sexual assault complaint doesn’t result in charges. The most common is that there is insufficient evidence, which Bourassa said can sometimes be out of the control of the police.
If the victim requests that the complaint does not proceed further, Bourassa said the file could conclude temporarily without charges being laid. Finally, charges aren’t laid if the accused is unknown or they can’t locate the accuser, which Bourassa said doesn’t happen often.
“Those are rare. Generally, sexual assaults happen between people that that are known to each other,” Bourassa said.
As of June 30, there have been 25 sexual assaults reported in Moose Jaw, a 25 per cent increase from this same time period in 2021.