Director of police services Clayton Pecknold attends a press conference at the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., Monday, December 19, 2016. A woman's complaints about being asked about a "walk of shame" by a Saanich Police Department officer after reporting an alleged sexual assault has prompted British Columbia's police complaint commissioner to call for provincial policing standards for sex crime investigations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

‘Walk-of-shame’ comment prompts call to change police sexual assault investigations

VICTORIA — A woman’s complaints about being asked about a “walk of shame” by a Saanich police officer after reporting an alleged sexual assault has prompted British Columbia’s police complaints commissioner to call for provincial standards for sex crimes investigations.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner’s annual report includes details of the unnamed woman’s complaint about a yearlong sexual assault investigation where she felt “devalued” and “disrespected” by an officer she perceived as biased.

“In addition, the complainant reported that the officer made comments and asked questions during their meetings which she felt were improper,” says the report. “This included comments related to the consumption of alcohol and medication, asking whether she stayed in the park because she did not want to do a ‘walk of shame.’”

The report says the woman said she was denied the assistance of a support person during her second meeting with the investigating officer and was told a support person was not necessary.

The woman made a complaint to the commission in January 2019 arising from an alleged incident that occurred in 2018, the report says.

“This specific case is what prompted me to write to the province and to suggest that they do a pan-provincial approach and standardize gender-based violence and sexual assault investigations,” commissioner Clayton Pecknold said in an interview.

“It isn’t just that file, it’s certainly other files across our desk where we see these types of inadequate investigations in terms of sexual assault investigations,” he said.

B.C.’s police complaint commission is a civilian, independent office of the legislature that oversees and monitors complaints and investigations involving municipal police in the province. The office is responsible for administering discipline and proceedings under the Police Act.

Pecknold said the Police Act includes standards for investigations and procedures involving major crimes, missing persons and use of force, but not sexual assault.

“One of the challenges with sexual assault investigations that has been identified for a number of years with respect to gender-based violence, are biases and assumptions that are gender based,” he said.

Pecknold said he wrote to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General calling for the province to bring in standards for sexual assault investigations that municipal police departments must follow.

He said the ministry told him it was reviewing plans to introduce binding policing policy for sexual assault investigations but did not provide a timeline.

Pecknold would not release the letter he sent to the ministry or the response he received, saying some of the information in the documents was subject to privacy protections.

Earlier this week, the legislature appointed a Special Committee on Reform of the Police Act.

The committee is tasked with making recommendations to modernize and sustain the Police Act with respect to complex social issues, including mental health, addictions and harm reduction and the scope of systemic racism within B.C. police agencies.

Pecknold said he expects the committee to examine police policy for sexual assault investigations.

“If they invite me to make some recommendations to this, I’ll look forward to doing that,” he said.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said in statement that it recognizes police are one of the first contacts for many sexual assault survivors and the officer’s response to the claim is of critical importance.

“The director of police services is in the very early stages of developing policing standards on investigating allegations of sexual assaults and will be consulting with many stakeholders on this matter to support this work,” the statement said.

Pecknold said his office recommended the Saanich Police Board conduct an independent review of all department policies and procedures related to sexual assault investigations, including initial responses to sexual assault complaints by first responders.

The report says following a review by the Vancouver Police Department, Saanich policy was amended to ensure all sexual offence investigations are reviewed and monitored by a supervisor in the detective division.

“The department also created a separate policy regarding trauma-informed practices,” says the report.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, who is chairman of the police board, was not immediately available for comment.

A spokesperson for Saanich Police Department was not available for comment.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid races to 100 points this NHL season

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid sprinted to a 100-point NHL season and… Continue reading

A Foodora courier is pictured as they pick up an order for delivery from a restaurant in Toronto, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Two-year EI review needed to buy time for needed tech upgrades, Qualtrough says

OTTAWA — Canada’s employment minister says a budgetary pledge for funding to… Continue reading

A person wears a face mask as they walk through McGill University during light snowfall in Montreal, Sunday, December 20, 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Some universities say no to proof of vaccination requirement

A COVID-19 vaccine likely won’t be a requirement to return to the… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, participate in a virtual discussion with seniors from Residence Memphremagog in Magog, Que., from Ottawa on Monday, May 3, 2021. Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats are on the move in advance of a potential election this year, recruiting candidates, training volunteers and grappling with how to kiss babies and press the flesh in a virtual, pandemic-restricted world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Grappling with how to press the virtual flesh, parties gear up for election showdown

OTTAWA — The three main national parties are firing up their election… Continue reading

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Most Read