Sex Crime Unit
Members of the Sex Crime Unit investigate complaints of sex crimes that go beyond those of stranger sexual assault; they regularly deal with non-stranger sexual assaults. 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. There are four Sergeants and two Constables within the unit.
The Sex Crime Unit has a close, collaborative working relationship with the Saskatoon Sexual Assault and Information Centre, where staff provide 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 to report it to Police. It is important for you to feel in control of what happens to you moving forward so you can make the best decision for yourself.
What to 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 decisions that are best for you. Remember, the role of the Police is to impartially investigate. When a sexual assault has been reported to 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. Investigators may 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 a sexual assault to Police.
If you are reporting to Police immediately after the assault occurred, to help investigators 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. In any case, the sooner you call the Police, the easier it is to collect the evidence needed to prove the charge; Even if you are unsure about proceeding with an investigation, you are encouraged 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
- 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 and Information Centre for confidential counselling and support which is free of charge.
Ways to Report Sexual Assault
You can report the assault by calling 911, the SPS non-emergency number: (306) 975-8300 or by attending to the Service Centre at SPS Headquarters, located at 76 25th Street East. If you choose to report by attending to SPS Headquarters, you will be asked to write a witness statement while the officer begins a report.
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 hospitals that perform this exam in Saskatoon). The medical staff will report to the Police on your behalf and the process will commence.
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. The Sergeant will then 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 Crime Unit in a separate room. The recording may be used as evidence in the court process.
During 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 investigate your case. The interview process is intended to make you feel as comfortable as possible. If you need 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 their investigation, including contacting the suspect. If knowing when the suspect will be contacted is important to you, be sure to ask the Sergeant to inform you when the contact has been made.
Direction of the Investigation
The direction of the investigation/file depends on numerous factors. You will be asked at the beginning of the investigation if you wish to proceed with the process, including the court process. The investigator’s role is to collect the evidence and determine if there are reasonable probable grounds to lay charges. The investigator may request that 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 complete, the investigator 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/legal process, you still have the option to 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 Police, in consultation with the Crown Prosecutor, 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, such as 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. It is therefore, important to report a sexual assault as soon as possible.
If Police lay charges, the file continues on to the Crown Prosecutor’s 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 time the initial report is taken to the court date. You will be the one going through the process, and therefore your wellbeing and comfort with the process are of the utmost importance.
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 a 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.