Edmonton police are hoping a new program will lower the number of domestic violence cases in the city by providing a better understanding of repeat offenders and help predict when incidents will happen.
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Published on: January 21, 2017 | Last Updated: January 22, 2017 7:05 PM MST
In response to a committee request, a report done by MacEwan University associate professor Sandy Yung at the beginning of 2016 was brought to the Edmonton Police Commission Thursday.
It showed a breakdown of the more than 36,000 instances of intimate partner violence in the city from 2010 to 2014. The highest annual numbers of reported incidents in a year was 8,012 in 2012 and around 8,500 incidents in 2015.
“They’re going up but we say it’s a good-news, bad-news story,” said Edmonton Police Service Chief Rod Knecht following the meeting. “We’re having more people coming forward and calling the police. We know in the past it was a crime that usually went unreported.”
Of a randomly selected sample, nearly half of offenders had been involved in a prior incident. Other characteristics were noted, including age, relationship status, ethnicity and criminal history.
Police have begun increasing checks on offenders to try to keep repeat events from happening. But the committee was told police don’t have a mechanism to measure how well those checks are working.
In January, a new tool began being used by Edmonton police in hopes of providing that mechanism.
The Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment — ODARA — was designed to assess the risk of recidivism among domestic violence offenders. It looks at 13 characteristics of each incident and has proven effective in other jurisdictions.
The hope is the numbers will show police where to put their efforts to stop incidents from being repeated once they are reported.
Knecht said he believes people have begun to move past the point where shame is keeping reports from being made, increasing the statistics. But a consistent message to victims is still needed to get the initial reports to continue to be made.
“We just need those people to come forward so that we can deal with the situation and get these people to a better place and deal with the perpetrators,” he said.
Facts about domestic trends in Edmonton from 2010-14
Majority were males between 20 and 39 years old — average age of 34.5 years
Most had a substance-abuse problem
Three out of five had a history of violent offending and violating supervision
Half were Caucasian, employed, parents and married or living with their partner
Majority were females between 20 and 34 years old — average age of 33.2 years
Most had been victimized by a partner in past
Half were Caucasian, parents and married or living with their partner
Of female victims, two-thirds were concerned for their safety while just one-fifth of male victims showed similar concern.
In cases where perpetrators’ attitudes were noted, more than one-third showed no accountability for their behaviour.
In more than 71 per cent of occurrences, the complainant had barriers to victim support, including children, no telephone, no transportation, geographic isolation, intoxication or a history of intoxication.
More than 63 per cent of occurrences were considered solved but non-criminal in nature with nearly 29 per cent cleared by charge.
Source: Optimizing Resources for Intimate Partner Violence Cases: A Demographic Profile and the Prediction of Risk by Sandy Jung, associate professor MacEwan University Department of Psychology