Oct 07, 2014, by Louis Rosella Mississauga News
Domestic violence charges in Peel on the rise, but for fewer calls
BRAMPTON — Domestic violence charges are on the rise in Mississauga and Brampton, even though police responded to fewer calls for such incidents last year.
Peel Regional Police released its 2013 Domestic Violence Report at a Police Services Board meeting recently, showing that last year’s 13,402 calls for domestic violence in Peel was a five per cent drop from the 14,116 calls in 2012 and a similar percentage drop from the 14,113 calls in 2010.
However, of last year’s calls, 2,065 resulted in charges being laid, up from the 2,007 in 2012 and the 1,893 in 2010. The other calls were family disputes (5,270) involving family members who weren’t intimately involved, while 6,067 were verbal incidents between couples.
Most domestic violence calls are investigated by front-line officers, said Det. Rick Hawes, who authored the report.
“While many of these calls may be minor and many times non-criminal matters, others are complicated and life-threatening,” Hawes states. “In the more complex cases, divisional criminal investigators may be called upon to take carriage of the investigation.”
Hawes discussed in the report some of the issues faced by officers responding to domestic violence calls which necessitates training from the force’s Family Violence Unit.
This includes incidents in where charges against both individuals can be laid and making the right decision in terms of who is the “dominant aggressor” is critical.
“If charges are arbitrarily laid against both individuals, this can have a devastating impact by re-victimizing a person who is truly a victim of domestic violence,” he states.
Another issue is Peel’s diverse population and the language barriers faced by responding officers, Hawes said.
“With over 100 languages spoken in the Region, front-line police personnel face unique difficulties in assessing the needs of victims and their families,” the report says. Peel police continues to partner with Multilingual Community Interpreter Services to provide help in domestic violence situations.
The force continues to refer all domestic calls in which a child is involved to Peel Children’s Aid Society, and a new committee, Risk Evaluation and Management In Peel (REVAMP), made up of officers, crown prosecutors, social service workers and others, has been a “significant development” in addressing the ongoing safety needs of victims of domestic violence.
Hawes believes the numbers for domestic violence continue to decrease in Mississauga and Brampton because of the force’s “zero tolerance” approach and the provincial “mandatory charge” initiative, which states in all incidents of domestic violence, if there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed police must lay a charge.
“All domestic calls responded to by Peel Regional Police are considered the highest priority and responded to by a minimum of two officers when in progress,” Hawes said