Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Section
The mandate of the Sex Crimes / Child Abuse Section is to investigate reports of child physical abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse, and sexual assault where the victim is 16 years or older.
The members of the unit have specific training in the area of forensic interviewing of children and a close working relationship with child protection workers from the Ministry of Social Services. Sexual abuse investigators must be able to comfortably and effectively talk about issues that are often emotional and difficult. They receive specialized training and develop expertise in the use of forensic evidence such as DNA. They investigate complaints of sex crimes that go beyond those of stranger sexual assault; they regularly deal with non-stranger sexual assaults.
The Section has a close collaborative working relationship with the Saskatoon Sexual Assault and Information Centre which also provides additional training and information to investigators, as well as support to survivors of sexual assault.
If you have experienced sexual assault, it is your choice whether to report it to the Police. It is important for you to feel in control of what happens to you moving forward so you can make the decision that is best for you. If you have questions about what to expect through the reporting process and police investigation, click here.
Centre for Children's Justice
The Saskatoon Centre for Children's Justice (SCCJ) provides a child-friendly, safe environment for children. It is an integrated unit where police and child protection workers, along with partners from the Victim Services Unit, Saskatoon Health Region, and the Crown Prosecutor's Office, operate as a team to review and respond to reports of physical and/or sexual abuse of children.
We have a full time Victim Services Responder within the SCCJ which allows for an immediate and thorough victim services response. The Victim Services Responder ensures children and caregivers have access to support services.
After investigations of persons such as Clifford Olsen and Paul Bernardo, it was obvious that cross jurisdictional issues were present amongst Police Services. As a result, in the early 1990s, the RCMP developed the Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System or ViCLAS. It is a Canada-wide computer system that assists specially trained investigators to identify serial crimes and criminals by focusing on linkages that exist among crimes by the same offender. All police services in Canada contribute to ViCLAS by submitting information about the violent crime investigations undertaken in their jurisdictions. Information is submitted on homicides, sexual assaults, attempted murders, abductions, missing people and unidentified bodies where foul play is suspected in the cause of death.
What you can expect when reporting a sexual assault
The decision to report a sexual assault is a personal one; however by choosing to report, you can help reduce the risk of potential future assaults by the same individual.
When deciding whether or not to report a sexual assault to police, it is important to know what will be involved in the process so you can make the decision that is best for you. Remember, the role of the police is to impartially investigate. When a sexual assault has been reported to the police, officers are responsible for gathering, evaluating, and processing information and/or evidence. They must critically evaluate whether the evidence supports prosecuting the case without bias. They must also rely on the Crown Prosecutor to concur that there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction before proceeding with laying charges. In policing, the term "victim" is used as a reference to anyone who has been offended against all types of criminal acts. It is not intended to minimize the adversity of those who are reporting sexual assault to police.
If you are reporting to police immediately after the assault occurred, to help the police gather evidence, DO NOT:
- shower or bathe
- change or throw away your clothes
- wash your hands or comb your hair
- take any drugs or alcohol
- disturb the area of the occurrence
There is no time limit for reporting and/or laying charges for a sexual assault. But in any case, the sooner you call the police, the easier it is for them to collect the evidence needed to prove the charge. Even if you are unsure about proceeding with an investigation, we encourage you to file an initial report and let Police collect physical evidence that will remain on file in case you decide to proceed at a later date when you are more comfortable in doing so.
There are a number of reasons why reporting your sexual assault is important. The information helps us to; assess your safety and assist you to remain safe; assess the safety of others; prevent future sexual assaults and protect victims; identify serial sexual predators; learn more about sexual assault in the community; and refer and link you to Victim Services and support agencies that will provide you with ongoing assistance.
Whether or not you choose to report to Police, we would encourage you to contact the Saskatoon Sexual Assault Centre for confidential counselling and support which is free of charge. Please call (306) 244-2294 for more information or visit www.ssaic.ca
Three General Ways to Report
You can report the incident by either calling 911 or attending to the Police Station (located at 76 - 25th Street East).
If the sexual assault happened within the last 72 hours, you can also go to the hospital to have a forensic exam completed by medical staff (City Hospital and Royal University Hospital are currently the only ones that perform these types of exams in Saskatoon).
If you choose to report by attending to the Police Station, you will be asked to write a witness statement while the Police Officer starts a report.
To report a sexual assault, you can call the Police non-emergency line: 306-975-8300 (if it is an emergency, call 911). When you call you will reach a dispatch officer who will send uniform police officers to you. When the police officers arrive, they may offer to take you to the hospital to receive medical attention and have any evidence of the sexual assault documented.
The police officer will start a police report in which he or she obtains personal information from you and information about the occurrence. The officer may ask you several things, including the name, address, and physical description of the suspect, if they are known to you. You will be asked to provide a statement about what happened.
Once the officer has completed his/her report and if there is no imminent safety risk to you, the officer will conclude their initial contact with you. In most cases, the file will be forwarded to the Sex Crimes Unit and assigned to a specially trained investigator for follow-up. They will contact you within a few days and make arrangements for you to provide a recorded statement. This will involve attending to the Police Station. These recorded statements allow you the opportunity to share more information with the investigating police Officer.
Please note: The factors of the sexual assault will determine who the investigating officer will be after time of reporting. Your file may be forwarded to a divisional detective, a sexual assault detective OR remain with the initial uniform patrol member. Once an investigator has been in contact with you, they will share their contact information in order to maintain communication throughout the investigation. However, if you wish, you may always request to speak to an Officer by calling 306-975-8300.
Go to the hospital
You may also report a sexual assault to the police by going to a hospital to get a forensic exam, if the assault has occurred within the last three days. The kit is also commonly referred to as a sexual assault kit or rape kit. Medical staff will contact Police to come and take your statement and collect evidence. Whether to undergo a forensic exam is your choice, however be mindful that any evidence that could be obtained to assist with the investigation may be lost with time. In addition to addressing any immediate medical needs (STI, possible pregnancy, injuries, etc.); this is an important step in the collection of evidence.
A forensic exam is not required in order to get medical treatment, but can only be performed at City Hospital or Royal University Hospital. If you do not want a forensic exam or police involvement, you can still visit the hospital emergency room, community clinic or your family doctor for treatment.
Go to a police station
You may also report a sexual assault by going to a police station or RCMP detachment and reporting it to the officer at the desk. Depending on where the assault took place, and where it is reported, police agencies may request assistance from each other in the investigation.
At a police station you may be asked to write a witness statement while the police officer starts a report. Your investigation will be turned over to a member currently on Patrol (working on the street) or forwarded directly to the Sex Crimes Section, as members stationed at the Service Centre do not investigate sexual assaults.
Depending on the timeframe between the sexual assault and reporting, you may be asked if you want to attend the hospital for a forensic examination.
You will be provided a file number for your records.
What to expect with a Recorded Interview
If the Sex Crimes Section continues with the investigation, a Sergeant will call you to schedule a recorded interview. It is important to make sure your phone number is current so they are able to reach you in a timely manner. These interviews will take place at the Saskatoon Police Service headquarters building (76 - 25th Street East). When you arrive, you will check in with staff at the Service Centre who will call the Sergeant to inform them of your arrival. They will then come down to greet you and take you to a comfortable room with a couch and chair. Only you and the Sergeant will be in the room discussing details of the incident, however, the interview will be videotaped and monitored by another member of the Sex Crimes Section in a separate room. The recording may be used as evidence in the court process.
In the interview you will be asked to describe everything you remember about the assault, and you will be asked to be very detailed and specific, even about parts of the sexual assault that make you uncomfortable. The Sergeant will ask you questions throughout the interview. Being as honest and detailed as possible will help the Sergeant in investigating your case.
The interview process is intended to make you feel as comfortable as possible. If necessary, a support person (as designated by you) may be able to sit in the interview room, or wait outside. If you need to request a break, please let the investigator know. It is important that you have sufficient time so this step may require several hours.
After the interview, the Sergeant will continue with her/his investigation, including contacting the suspect. If knowing when the suspect will be contacted is important to you, be sure to ask the Sergeant to contact you after he/she has contacted the suspect.
Direction of your investigation
The direction of the file depends on numerous factors. The police officer's role is to collect the evidence and determine if there are reasonable probable grounds to lay charges. The police officer may request a crown prosecutor review the file to provide a legal opinion. The crown prosecutor will provide opinion about likelihood of conviction which plays a factor in whether charges can be laid or not.
After the investigation is completed, the Police will let you know if charges can be laid. You will be asked if you wish to proceed with the court process. The decision is up to you.
If you decide you do not want to go through the court and legal process, you can still file a report with Police and a record of the sexual assault will remain on file in case you wish to pursue it at a later date.
If the Police, in consultation with the Crown, decide not to press charges, it does not mean they do not believe you. Officers often encounter a number of reasons for not being able to pursue charges, like not having enough physical evidence to prove the charges in court. The threshold for pursuing criminal charges is very high and sometimes, despite a full and truthful disclosure by you, the evidence collected may not meet the standard set forth by the courts.
If Police do lay charges, the case continues on to the crown prosecutors' office, and then to court.
In the end, the decision about whether or not to report the sexual assault to the Police is up to you. The legal process can take up to two years from the initial report to the police to the court date. You will be the one going through the process, and therefore your wellbeing and comfort with the process are vital.
In all of these scenarios, the police use an extensive referral network and will provide a referral whenever possible to assist you during and after the investigation. One of the possible referrals is Victim Services who will most likely contact you. You can choose whether or not you would like to work with Victim Services and/or another support agency.
The Saskatoon Sexual Assault Centre offers free and confidential information, support and counselling for individuals who have experienced either a recent or historical sexual assault. Information is available during business hours at 306-244-2294, or via their website www.ssaic.ca. There is also a 24-hour crisis line; please call 306-244-2224 to connect with a trained social worker.