|Murray Segal, Ontario's former assistant attorney general, makes 17 |
recommendations in a report issued Thursday into
the case of Rehteah Parsons. (CBC)
The report found the system "failed" on just about every level and outlines a series of improvements to policies, procedures and actions relating to cyberbullying, sexual violence, investigations and prosecutions.
The recommendations also look at roles and responsibilities of government, schools, police and prosecutors.
"I'm taking these recommendations very seriously and I know my partners in government, law enforcement and the Public Prosecution Service will too," Justice Minister Diana Whalen said Thursday.
"I am committed to working with them to address these recommendations and the issues and concerns outlined in the report."
Halifax Regional Police and RCMP revise their sexual assault and child abuse policies. The report is critical of the way police dealt with Parsons. It says officers should not have spoken with her to gather initial information; interviews should be done by investigators with a social worker present. The report says police should create a policy for interviewing underage victims.
Create an integrated police sex crimes unit that works more closely with the sexual assault investigation team (SAIT) and the integrated child exploitation unit (ICE). Task forces should be created when necessary.
Police should be given specific training as soon as they're assigned to SAIT. Crown prosecutors who handle sexual assault cases should also receive special training.
More Crown prosecutors with specialized training should be available to prosecute ICE cases.
Changes to procedure when the Crown decides there are insufficient grounds to lay a charge or feels there is no realistic chance of a conviction. There should be written reasons for the decision.
Police act quickly when cyberbullying may be criminal.
This looks like a really good start. I sincerely hope that all the recommendations are implemented quickly. I also hope that there is some mechanism recommended to keep up-to-date with rapidly changing technology. Laws, and probably how they are enforced will likely need some considerable flexibility and adaptability.