In partnership with the Saskatoon Sexual Assault & Information Centre (SSAIC) and the Improving Institutional Accountability Project (IIAP), the Saskatoon Police Service is launching a new process called the Violence Against Women Advocate Case Review (VACR), a uniquely Canadian iteration built from the core elements of what is known as ‘The Philadelphia Model’.
Sexual assaults make up a large portion of the criminal offences in Saskatoon. There were 408 reports in 2020, and 453 in 2021. This is indicative of an upwards trend over the last five years, creating an opportunity to re-evaluate these types of investigations in order to develop and strengthen relationships, and improve investigative outcomes.
The foundational element of the VACR allows frontline sexual violence specialists, independent of police services, to review sexual assault investigations that did not proceed to charges. Through transparency and file sharing, it invites those familiar with the experiences of sexual assault survivors into the police processes to help identify issues/concerns related to individual cases or investigative processes to assist in problem solving.
Through the VACR process, the SPS will provide all information pertaining to a file to create a richer and more accurate picture with respect to trauma-informed investigations. This ensures a reviewer has access to all pertinent details from which to make recommendations and provide feedback.
“Independent advocate case reviews have gained significant momentum in recent years with several police services across the country adopting frameworks,” says Superintendent Patrick Nogier, Criminal Investigations Division. “The adoption of a VACR process enhances the accountability of these investigations in a number of areas including improved confidence in police, stronger investigations, and improved collaboration between partners.”
Another benefit of the VACR process is the opportunity for learning for both organizations.
“We are educated every day by survivors who have experienced the trauma of sexual violence and are looking forward to being able to bring this knowledge to this review process,” says Saskatoon Sexual Assault & Information Centre Executive Director Faye Davis. “Our participation in the VACR process will benefit both partner agencies as it provides us with an opportunity to become better educated about police processes, limitations, and the challenges they experience. Both partners can then work together to problem solve from a more informed perspective.”
The VACR reviewers first met in April and will meet quarterly to review files.
For media inquiries:
Faye Davis, Executive Director
Improving Institutional Accountability Project:
Sunny Marriner, VACR National Project Lead