Chief John Pare has launched a review of how London police conduct sexual-assault investigations in the wake of an eye-popping report that shows the force dismisses nearly one-third of all such complaints.
“(We are) committed to providing the best service possible in response to victims of crime, and this review will assist us in maintaining the confidence and trust of the community,” Pare wrote in a weekend statement.
A national analysis, published by the Globe and Mail newspaper after a 20-month investigation, found the rate of sexual-assault allegations that are dismissed as “unfounded” — which they called police-speak for baseless allegations — varies dramatically based on where the complainants live.
The analysis focused in large part on the Forest City. It found that over a five-year period, London police dismissed 30 per cent of sexual-assault complaints — nearly one in three — as unfounded, among the highest rate in Canada.
In real numbers, the probe determined that London police statistics show there were 259 complaints in the city in 2014 when, in fact, there were nearly 400, when those dismissed as baseless are included.
For context, over a five-year period Toronto police deemed only seven per cent of such complaints as unfounded. Nationally, one-in-five, or 20 per cent, are classified as baseless, the report found.
The ultimate conclusion is that different police departments have vastly different ways of handling sexual-assault complaints — a sobering reality for the complainants, often women, who must step forward with them.
Pare’s statement is an unusual one, and suggests he takes the unflattering statistics seriously.
“Through this review we want to look at our current practices and develop best practices,” Pare noted in his statement. “What are we doing well? What can we improve upon? And what path can we chart for the future?”
It’s unclear whether the results of the internal probe will be made public. But Pare said the department will work with unnamed “community partners” throughout.