Third Party Reporting of Sexual Assault: The British Columbia Protocol
Sexual assault is a serious crime often resulting in major physical or psychological injury. Under-reporting of sexual offences remains a critical issue. It is important to remember that with a sexual assault, as with any violence offence, police can play a critical role in assessing risk and protecting the victim and other potential victims from further violence. To help police protect potential victims, every effort must be made to encourage reporting of these crimes particularly in high risk cases, or cases involving serial offenders or sexual predators. In British Columbia, Third Party Reporting (TPR) of sexual assault is a process which allows adult victims (19 and over) to report details of a sexual offence/assault to police anonymously, through a Community Based Victim Services Program (CBVS).
TPR is an option of last resort for victims who would not otherwise provide information to the police. It is not a substitute for a call to 911, nor is it in and of itself a police investigation. It is not to be used when the victim or others are at risk of further violence. TPR connects victims to specialized supports, gives victims needed time to decide if and when they are ready to engage the criminal justice system, and provides police with critical information about sex crime patterns within and across police jurisdictions.
The BC TPR protocol is led by EVA BC’s Community Coordination for Women’s Safety (CCWS) program, which supports CBVS and police to develop local interagency protocols and to implement and maintain the TPR protocol. The TPR Protocol is guided by a provincial TPR Work Team comprised of CCWS, BC Association of Chiefs of Police, RCMP “E” Division, Vancouver Police Department Sex Crimes Unit, BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police, and BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
Third Party Reporting Cover Sheet and Form
For original/individual versions of the Third Party Reporting Cover Sheet and Form, as well as other support regarding Third Party Reporting contact CCWS by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 604.633.2506 ext 15.
Third Party Reporting Guidebook: Increasing Reporting Options for Sexual Assault Victims, November 2015
The TPR Guidebook contains comprehensive information about the Third Party Reporting Protocol in BC. It also includes police protocol guidelines, CBVS protocol guidelines, a sample cover sheet and form, and a local interagency protocol template. This resource was developed by the TPR Work Team to increase the implementation and effectiveness of the TPR protocol across BC. The Guidebook amalgamated and updated several 2008 TPR documents, including the police TPR protocol guidelines.
This document is intended to assist with local interagency protocol development for Third Party Reporting of sexual assault in British Columbia. It is to be used in conjunction with the comprehensive CCWS publication, Third Party Reporting Guidebook: Increasing Reporting Options for Sexual Assault Victims, November 2015.
To implement TPR locally, CBVS and police need to negotiate local agreements incorporating the steps and procedures contained in the Police and CBVS Provincial Protocol Guidelines. A local TPR protocol template can be used as the basis for local interagency agreements regarding roles and responsibilities with respect to TPR.
To ensure consistency of response and collection of data, BC’s police services reached an agreement with Community Coordination for Women’s safety to enhance the current TPR provincial protocol. BC RCMP Crime Prevention Services (CPS) is now acting as a liaison with RCMP detachments and municipal police departments to support their efforts to investigate these incidents, and to ensure consistent attention to Third Party Reports and related policing issues. This liaison position is also improving the ability of police services to review TPRs from across the province to identify linkages between investigations of sexual assaults within and across police jurisdictions. This document describes the enhancement to the protocol, one of several initiatives the provincial TPR Work Team is engaged in to increase the availability of this important reporting option across the province.
While the BC TPR Protocol is intentionally focussed on adults aged 19 and over, it does not preclude consideration of the possibility of TPR in exceptional cases for younger survivors. TPR for survivors under 19 is possible, but the process needs to be worked out at the local level between Community-Based Victim Services (CBVS) and police on a case-by-case discretionary basis. This document outlines a number of factors that need to be taken into account in exercising this discretion.