B.C. government announces new programs, police standards for sexual assault

B.C. government announces new programs, police standards for sexual assault

The British Columbia government is updating policing standards in response to sexual assaults to ensure more effective investigations and improved outcomes for survivors.

The province also says it’s committing to providing stable annual funding to 68 sexual assault programs across B.C., while it sets new standards for police to collaborate with victims services workers during investigations.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says survivors deserve to be treated fairly after going through trauma and shielded from further harm, and the new standards and programs will “empower” those people.

The province says the funding for the new programs kicks in this month, while new policing standards coupling investigators with victims services workers will begin next year, applying to all B.C. police officers.

The RCMP began a review of its sexual assault complaints after a Globe and Mail investigation in 2017 reported police classify an average one in five sexual assaults as unfounded, and since then it has reopened hundreds of files and laid dozens of charges.

Farnworth says the new B.C. policing standards includes a review of closed cases, and will involve “supervisory oversight” of investigations to make sure officers are impartial and “trauma informed.”

The B.C. government says it now kicks in $54 million a year for crime victim support services and programs, more than 470 of which deal with violence against women and sexual assault victims.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2023. 

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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