Sexual assault survivors can now report incidents to third parties instead of directly to Winnipeg police or another law enforcement agency, all while remaining anonymous.
Sexual assaults often go widely unreported, as victims don’t wish to become part of a police investigation or court proceedings.
Three community-based partner agencies will now handle the intake of such reports and forward them to police. Klinic Community Health Centre, Heart Medicine Lodge (Ka Ni Kanichihk) and Sage House (Mount Carmel Clinic) will collect the reports, but the name of the victim won’t be forwarded to police.
“The reports will be disseminated within the WPS for informational purposes, and will be entered into the VICLAS system which is a national database designed to track violent offenders. This may enable police to identify offenders or trends that might otherwise have gone unreported,” police said in a release.
Police say the initiative is a step forward in addressing the serious issue of the under-reporting of sexual assault cases.
Third-party reporting won’t replace traditional reporting, but will be treated for informational purposes only. Anyone named in the reports won’t be interviewed by police.
“What we would hope is that the victim, through the liaison, through the support they get, may be comfortable enough to be introduced to police investigators,” said Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth.
The Manitoba RCMP has developed a similar protocol alongside community victim service providers for third-party reporting in other areas of Manitoba.