Canadian Forces Military Police report initial results from the Sexual Assault Review Program (SARP)

Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM), is announcing the initial results of the work completed by the SARP External Review Team (ERT).

The review was conducted in December 2018. Along with facilitators from the CFNIS, members of the ERT included a civilian crown prosecutor specializing in sexual assault prosecutions, a victim/violence against women advocate, a team leader from the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC) and a primary care nurse with the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. All members of the team underwent initial training and were subsequently provided access to all unfounded sexual assault investigative files from 2010 to 2016 for their review.

The ERT reviewed 67 of the 113 files. This total number stems from an internal review that was completed in June 2018 by the CFNIS. As announced in November 2018, 179 files from 2010 to 2016 had been coded as unfounded. An internal review of those files had found that 23 files required additional review, 43 files needed to be re-coded, and 113 files remained unfounded.

Their initial findings reaffirmed that for the most part files were properly coded as unfounded at the time of conclusion. However due to recent changes in clearance coding from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) they made recommendation to amend the clearance status of some files. Over the course of the file review the ERT commented that MP investigators developed good rapport with the victim, validating the continued need for trauma informed sexual assault investigation training, which was proactively adopted by the CFNIS in 2016.

Preparations are now underway for the ERT to conduct its second review session, which will include the remaining 46 files from 2010-2016 as well as all unfounded sexual assault files from 2017 and 2018.

“The implementation of independent file reviews is quickly becoming recognized as a best practice in sexual assault investigations across Canada,” said Sunny Marriner, Project Lead – Violence against Women (VAW) Advocate Case Review.

“It’s heartening to see the Canadian Forces working, along with other levels of policing, for transparency and accountability to survivors who take on the difficult task of reporting. During the review we saw many strong examples of CFNIS rapport-building with complainants, and a commitment to deepening the service’s knowledge of trauma-informed interviewing to support victim ability to come forward.”

• The intent of the SARP is to implement an open and transparent case review model of unfounded sexual assault investigations to include an external review team of stakeholders with case file access.

• The goals of SARP are to validate the unfounded coding and conduct a substantive review of the investigation.

Frontline Military Police remain a key part of the investigative process as they are often the first point of contact for victims/complainants in the reporting of any offence. Military Police often interact with victims as they attempt to deal with their trauma. The primary task in those situations is to support and protect the victim.