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Truro police auditing sexual assault files

Truro Police Services Chief Dave McNeil.
Truro Police Services Chief Dave McNeil.

TRURO, N.S. – An investigation that showed a high rate of sexual assault cases in the area has resulted in an internal audit by the Truro Police Service.

A Globe and Mail investigation into sexual assault cases across the country, from 2010 to 2014, put the rate of unfounded cases in Truro at 55 per cent. Incidents are listed as unfounded when it is decided that a criminal violation did not take place.

“I was surprised to see that our police service had such a high number of cases cleared as ‘unfounded’ and as a result of this I wanted to know why,” said Truro Police Chief Dave MacNeil.

“Once this article came out we had a quick look at our sexual assault files and determined that several of these, once investigated, should have been assigned another occurrence type other than “sexual assault,” as they were not sexual assaults as originally reported.”                  

The staff sergeant in charge of the criminal investigation division is conducting an internal audit of files from 2010 to 2016 to ensure files were thoroughly investigated and to determine whether occurrences should have been classed as ‘sexual assault’ or something different.

Efforts are also being made to determine whether file scoring was done correctly, using the proper classification from the Uniform Crime Reporting index, which is where the statistics come from. 

The police service has arranged to meet with community partners at the Central Nova Women’s Resource Center and the Colchester Sexual Assault Center once the results of the internal audit have been completed to bring them up to date and get feedback.

“We are concerned with the perception of these statistics as we take the safety and security of the public very seriously,” said MacNeil. “We work very hard with our community partners to address violence, in particular relationship violence.”

The audit will be completed by Feb. 20.

A Globe and Mail investigation into sexual assault cases across the country, from 2010 to 2014, put the rate of unfounded cases in Truro at 55 per cent. Incidents are listed as unfounded when it is decided that a criminal violation did not take place.

“I was surprised to see that our police service had such a high number of cases cleared as ‘unfounded’ and as a result of this I wanted to know why,” said Truro Police Chief Dave MacNeil.

“Once this article came out we had a quick look at our sexual assault files and determined that several of these, once investigated, should have been assigned another occurrence type other than “sexual assault,” as they were not sexual assaults as originally reported.”                  

The staff sergeant in charge of the criminal investigation division is conducting an internal audit of files from 2010 to 2016 to ensure files were thoroughly investigated and to determine whether occurrences should have been classed as ‘sexual assault’ or something different.

Efforts are also being made to determine whether file scoring was done correctly, using the proper classification from the Uniform Crime Reporting index, which is where the statistics come from. 

The police service has arranged to meet with community partners at the Central Nova Women’s Resource Center and the Colchester Sexual Assault Center once the results of the internal audit have been completed to bring them up to date and get feedback.

“We are concerned with the perception of these statistics as we take the safety and security of the public very seriously,” said MacNeil. “We work very hard with our community partners to address violence, in particular relationship violence.”

The audit will be completed by Feb. 20.

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