About the Service Division 41
Sex Crimes Unit
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In 2000, the Winnipeg Police Service recognized the need for a specialized unit to better meet the needs of sexual assault victims. Prior to that time, sexual assault investigations were conducted by members of the Crimes Against Persons Division or by police officers working in the area where the assault occurred.
A separate Sex Crimes Unit was deemed necessary for two reasons.
1. Recent scientific and legal developments surrounding the use of forensic evidence, such as DNA, required that police receive specialized training and develop expertise to effectively investigate major sexual assaults.
2. The Winnipeg Police Service recognized that victims of sexual assault have specific needs and concerns, and that investigators needed more sophisticated interviewing skills to effectively meet the needs of sexual assault victims.
The Sex Crimes Unit investigates sexual assaults that involve victims aged 14 years and older and that meet any or all of the following criteria:
- Where intercourse has occurred
- Where the assault is predatory, sadistic or serial in nature
- Where a weapon was used, threatened or implied
- Where the sexual assault was committed during the commission of another violent offence, for example, a house break in
- Other investigations that require the Sex Crimes Unit expertise
Other types of sexual assault, including those involving domestic relationships, are handled by investigators in the division where the assault occurred.
Victims of sexual assault under the age of 14 years are interviewed by members of the Child Abuse Unit.
IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF A SEXUAL ASSAULT, THERE IS A TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS READY TO HELP YOU.
Reporting a Sexual Assault
What should a person do after a sexual assault?
Any victim of a sexual assault should contact a helping agency and/or the police. Adult victims should:
- Go to the Health Sciences Centre or call 9-1-1 for emergency services (Winnipeg Police or the Fire/Paramedic Services) and transport to the Health Sciences Center.
- Try not to shower before going to the hospital
- Preserve any clothes worn at the time of the assault
- Tell the police or hospital staff immediately if you think you may have been drugged by the date-rape or other drugs. Testing for drugs requires a urine sample within approximately 12 hours after the drugs were taken, or the toxins are naturally flushed from your system.
What happens at the hospital?
The Health Science Centre has a private suite for victims of sexual assault. This suite includes an examination room, changing and showering facilities, and a private room to meet with detectives and/or counselors.
Specially trained nurses conduct a sexual assault protocol examination. This examination is for your health and well being and to collect DNA evidence.
If you are sexually assaulted by penetration, the examination at the hospital must be done within 72 hours of the assault to ensure the collection of DNA evidence. DNA can assist in the court process and needs to be collected as soon after the assault as possible.
Trained volunteers from the Klinic Community Health Center are available to every sexual assault victim treated at the Health Science Center. These volunteers provide information and support to the victim.
The victim can choose whether or not to speak with someone from Klinic, and whether or not the police become involved. If the victim speaks with the police, the victim retains the right to decide whether or not the police proceed with the case, with certain exceptions as noted below.
In certain cases, the police must become involved, even if a victim chooses not to proceed with a police investigation. Those exceptions occur when:
The suspect is an intimate or domestic partner. The Winnipeg Police Services policy on domestic violence requires police to proceed with the investigation if there are reasonable grounds to believe the victim was assaulted by a domestic partner.
The sexual assault involved a child under 16 years old.
In these cases, the police must proceed with an investigation.
Proceeding with a Police Investigation
If you choose to proceed with a police investigation, detectives meet you at the Health Science Centre and interview you regarding what has just happened. The interview may be videotaped for later use in court.
The police investigation is conducted by a team of professionals and volunteers specially trained to handle sexual assaults and provide support to victims. This team includes:
Detectives from the Sex Crimes Unit (both male and female)
Specially trained nurses
Follow-up assistance from Victim Services Unit
Our unit is available to you throughout the entire investigation. The Victim Services Unit contacts you, in confidence, to suggest counseling services and a variety of other services that may help you get through this difficult time.
To report a crime of sexual assault call 9-1-1 in emergency situations or 204-986-6222 is non-emergent. To speak to a detective in confidence, call 204-986-6245.
Police encourage victims to undergo a Sexual Assault Protocol examination at the Health Science Centre if there is a reasonable chance that forensic evidence can be gathered through that process.
Once the evidence is gathered, police do not process the evidence unless the victim wants to proceed with a police investigation (the exception to this is domestic sexual assault or if the victim is a child under the age of 16).
If the victim wishes to proceed with a police investigation, police interviews the victim and obtain a statement, usually on videotape.
The victim retains the right to make choices during the police investigation; including the right not to go to court (the exception to this is domestic sexual assault or if the victim is a child under the age of 16).
Victims may have a support worker from Klinic with them throughout the medical examination and police interview processes.
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