Canadian advocates want changes to police investigating police gender-based violence accusations

May 22, 2024

Advocates for victims of gender-based violence are calling for major changes to the way police services across Ontario deal with and investigate cases where the alleged perpetrator is a police officer.

Research shows that more than one-third of police officers across 44 forces who have been suspended with pay since 2013 were accused of sexual assault, domestic violence or disciplinary violations of sexual harassment on the job. This is despite the fact that approximately 79 per cent of Ontario police officers in 2023 were men and 21 per cent were women.

"I think that this conversation around reform has been happening for decades and this idea of the police policing the police is hugely problematic," said Lesley Bikos, a former constable who now teaches sociology at King's University College in London, Ontario.

"If you have the police still doing internal investigations and it's the police chief deciding what's happening, then you're still keeping all of that process internal."

Observers point to internal, systemic problems that could take a variety of solutions, including hiring more women to counter the gender imbalance within law enforcement, transferring more police oversight to an independent agency, and reallocating funds to community-based services.

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