Case Review (YACR)
The Yukon Advocate Case Review was initiated to examine the trajectory of sexual assault cases reported to the RCMP. Based on the VACR model, the aim of the project was to influence stakeholder policy and program changes and share best practices in order to reduce the number of misclassified sexual assault cases and sexual assault charges not taken to court and to critically examine the reasons for low conviction rates and the increasing rate of successful appeals in the Yukon. In March 2020, the project was halted by the RCMP national headquarters citing privacy concerns, which shocked Yukon women’s groups involved in the review process, who had been working in close collaboration with Yukon RCMP on the project.
Women and Gender Equality Canada
Yukon RCMP M-Division
Public Prosecution Service of Canada
Liard Aboriginal Women's Society
Dawson City Women's Shelter
Skookum Jim Women’s Legal Advocate
Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society
Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre
Two private lawyers
The Freda Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children
The Yukon Advocate Case Review was set up in 2018 to examine sexual assault cases police labelled unfounded or where no one was charged.
For a criminal incident to be considered unfounded, it must be "determined through police investigation that the offence reported did not occur, nor was it attempted"
(Statistics Canada 2016)
YACR was built on the working relationships established through the Court Watch Yukon program and through the Women's Coalition's Together for Safety Protocol with the RCMP. It was based on the work of Sunny Marriner and the Violence Against Women Advocate Case Review (VACR) model, more commonly known as the “Philadelphia model” in the United States, which has been piloted successfully in a number of other Canadian jurisdictions, most involving the review of police services, with the exception of Northern Ontario where they reviewed Crown files as well.
To decrease the number of misclassified sexualized assault cases;
To reduce the number of sexualized assault charges that are not taken to court by the Crown, stayed or withdrawn (unless it is at the request of the victim) consequently improving the climate for women to report cases of sexualized assault
To investigate the reasons for low conviction rates and increasing rates of successful appeals in Yukon.
Findings were meant to be shared each year giving the partners and stakeholders the opportunity to respond and make changes to their systems leading to improvements on a yearly basis. This would have allowed for ongoing feedback, identification of areas of concern and more monitoring. The project was the first of its kind in the North and a way for Yukon stakeholders to lead the way in improving the criminal justice system.
PROJECT WORK HALTED
Unfortunately, in late 2020 the Yukon RCMP's M-Division received word from National Headquarters requiring the shutdown of the Yukon Advocate Case Review Project. This was a shock among many involved in the process. Many women's groups believed this was a blatant attempt for National Headquarters to shirk transparency and accountability. Despite lobbying attempts to reinstate the project, a formal request for a copy of the RCMP's privacy assessment on the project, and numerous indications that the newly established Sexual Assault Review Committee process was not transparent or external, there has been little success.
When Yukon's sexual assault rate is 3.5 times the national average and the rate of unfounded cases is 25%, compared with 19% nationally, critical and external oversight of police handling of sexual assault cases is crucial. The Yukon Status will continue to find other ways to advocate and inform systems changes to make the territory safer for all genders.
ABOUT THE ISSUE
Learn more about the issue of gender-based violence and its impacts.
Court Watch Yukon Report
Court Watch Training Videos
Yukon Women's Coalition
Check out the Project Website for more resources.