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Section spécialisée en violence conjugale

The Section spécialisée en violence conjugale has the mandate to regulate intimate partner violence prevention and investigation practices at the SPVM.

This section is comprised of a commander, a lieutenant detective, a research officer, four sergeant detectives, a consulting officer and a community consultation officer, who are trained and specialized in intimate partner violence. This team is also supported by a liaison officer from the Centre d’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels (CAVAC) in Montréal.

Specialized investigation unit

The Section has a specialized investigation unit. This unit deals with intimate partner violence complaints which require special attention or when a high level of dangerousness or high risk of homicide has been identified.

Thus, the investigators handle sensitive cases or cases involving sensitive criteria, including for instance prior history of intimate partner violence, the objective seriousness of the assault (strangulation, injuries); significant increase in the frequency and severity of the violence and coercive control, or harassment.

The investigators set up interventions aimed at regulating the follow-up and tightening up of surveillance of attackers after they are discharged to check whether they comply with the conditions laid down by the Court. In close collaboration with the SSVC, priority action relating to cases considered to be urgent is taken by the investigation centres.

The investigators also play an advisory role to the investigators at the SPVM investigation centres. By focusing on intimate partner violence investigations, the members of this unit develop in-depth expertise on intimate partner violence which they share for the benefit of their colleagues.

More personalized support for victims

The Section spécialisée en violence conjugale consults and liaises with all players in the institutional, community and judicial environment at corporate level. This partnership enables psychosocial, medical, police and legal resources to build a safety net around victims.

Moreover, this prevents victims from having to carry out numerous steps, such as obtaining psychosocial services that they need or finding their way through the legal process.

This partnership provides victims access to services throughout the process. This support aims to make it easier to report intimate partner violence to the police, improve victims’ experience across the judicial system and increase their sense of justice.

In many respects, this partnership also helps SSVC staff to understand the realities faced by intimate partner violence victims and the various options available to them both within and outside the judicial system.

By having specialized investigators, the Section can provide more personalized support to victims which responds to their specific realities and needs.

The SPVM considers that this way of conducting investigations helps to prevent more domestic homicides. In addition, the Section’s consulting officer and community consultation officer constantly make sure that the mechanisms aimed at preventing and detecting risky situations are reinforced.

Referring attackers to help resources

To curb intimate partner violence on a long-term basis, the SPVM also wants to take preventative action by orienting attackers to community and health organizations that can help them.

For many victims, therapeutic treatment of perpetrators of violence is important. In addition, many organizations consider that rehabilitation of perpetrators of violence is the best way of ensuring public safety in the long term.

In this respect, local police stations 15, 16, 21, 22 and 38 are taking part in a pilot project to refer attackers to help resources, in partnership with the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud, the CLSCs Verdun and Jeanne-Mance and the Clinique communautaire de Pointe-Saint-Charles, starting this fall for a one-year period.

Consolidating the community of practice

The SPVM introduced a community of practice in relation to intimate partner violence in 2006. It is one of its best practices. It provides for one resource person in intimate partner violence matters at each local police station and investigation centre. This best practice is continuing.

Thus, each local police station has a police officer specializing in domestic and intrafamily violence who meets every new police officer in their unit to remind them about their role and duties in this area, and inform them about local organizations and partners. Lieutenant detectives play more or less the same role at the four SPVM investigation centres.

Networking meetings enable police officers specializing in domestic and intrafamily violence to maintain good relationships between the community of practice and local partners. Police officers specializing in domestic and intrafamily violence align with local partners to make presentations to promote healthy romantic relationships.

Changes in prevention and investigation practices

Expertise and new ways of doing things developed in the Section spécialisée en violence conjugale are available for use within the community of practice. In some cases, they may encourage and support changes to practices in the Service.

At the same time as the creation of the Section, the Division de la prévention et de la sécurité urbaine is already conducting various promising projects with its partners mainly in relation to research and prevention.

These initiatives facilitate new ways of doing things in relation to intimate partner violence. For example, introducing professional development for police officers on intimate partner violence is one of the first steps towards improving victim support.

All stakeholders who work with victims, regardless of their scope of practice, are concerned by the myths and prejudices, the consequences of trauma, the distinctive features of intimate partner violence, the specific needs of certain groups of victims and the rights and remedies of victims.