Preparing officers to better respond to intimate partner violence

POLICE will get a refresh of mandatory training so they can give enhanced response to people who suffer intimate partner violence, the Province announced on Monday.

This will improve front-line response and promote practices to further survivors’ safety.

“This timely renewal of training materials will prepare officers to better respond to the realities of intimate partner violence today, including its disproportionate impact on Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQ+ people,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Ensuring that frontline officers have up-to-date information from risk assessment through to charge recommendations, will complement our ongoing work with community partners who are helping vulnerable people transition more quickly to safety and survivorship.”

The coursework updating, completed over the past two years, involved consultation with police, non-police experts and Indigenous partners and sector service providers. It included:

* updating four existing, core training modules that were more than a decade old, so they reflect current best practices and emerging research;

* adding knowledge checks and practical activities throughout the coursework, to help officers put into practice what they learn;

* revisiting factors police use to identify domestic violence risk. This assessment validated 19 existing risk factors and placed added emphasis on perpetrator behaviours intended to oppress, dominate, isolate and control victims;

* integrating new content into the existing, familiar structure of the training, including additional safety-planning and trauma-informed practice considerations, some of which relate to unique factors that Indigenous women may experience in the context of intimate partner violence;

* revised templates to strengthen case documentation in police intelligence systems and, as appropriate, reports to Crown counsel.

“Work to ensure our front-line police responders have current, trauma-informed training is essential to responding to domestic and intimate partner violence,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “This updated training is one the important initiatives government has underway to better support people facing violence and end gender-based violence.”

The full intimate partner violence course is available and integrated into training for all municipal police agencies, including the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police Service, that attend the Justice Institute of British Columbia Police Academy. Existing officers must complete the learning, which takes four to five hours, by the end of 2022.

Amy S. FitzGerald, Executive Director, BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH), said: “The BC Society of Transition Houses was honoured to participate as a validator in the Stakeholder Working Group that assisted in the development of the B.C. Evidence-based, Risk-focused Intimate Partner Violence Investigations Course (IPV I).

“The cross-sectoral group, convened by the Policing and Security Branch, worked collaboratively on the update of the B.C. Summary of Domestic Violence Risk Factors and a refresh of the standardized online police training modules for B.C. police. The consultation resulted in a fulsome literature review and a consultation process that informed this important public safety work. The work examined the current environment and important contextual issues, such as the element of coercive control in intimate partner violence, and incorporated these emerging issues in its analysis and curriculum.

“The new risk factors and complementary curriculum inform and enhance the criminal justice response to intimate partner violence so that that the needs of victims and survivors of crime are safeguarded in the public safety response.”

Quick Facts

* Recognizing that Indigenous people are more than twice as likely to experience spousal violence as non-Indigenous people, the ministry worked closely with the BC First Nations Justice Council and the Métis Nation of BC to review course content.

* Funded through a grant from the ministry to the Justice Institute of BC Police Academy, the course refresh cost less than $120,000.

* The training remains free for police officers.