To better address domestic violence and prevent intimate partner violence, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) converted its existing Spousal Violence Intervention Team into a Domestic Offender Crimes Section (DOCS) in September 2010. DOCS is made up of the Domestic Offender Crimes Investigative Team, Domestic Violence Intervention Teams and the Docket Court Team. The Domestic Offender Crimes Investigative Team consists of six detectives responsible for files involving domestic crimes of an extremely violent or complex nature. The detectives are specially trained to address intimate-partner violence. Domestic Violence Intervention Teams are made up of a constable and a City of Edmonton social worker. These teams perform risk assessments of individual cases, make appropriate interventions and work with other agencies to coordinate plans for family reconciliation and safety. The Docket Court Team, also made up of a constable and a City of Edmonton social worker, conducts interviews with those involved in a case, makes recommendations to the Crown, and liaises with outside agencies and the other members of the DOCS team.
The Domestic Offender Crimes Section aims to prevent domestic violence offences within the city of Edmonton through victim-based intervention, strict judicial conditions, incarceration, offender management, sentencing and advocacy strategies and offender-based harm reduction strategies.
The Domestic Offender Crimes Section under Serious Crimes Branch
Different levels of consultation and direct involvement with the City of Edmonton, Children and Family Services, Probation/Parole.External partnerships:
The delivery model, recommended by a 2010 Functionality Report, commenced on September 13, 2010. It was based on the Spousal Violence Intervention Team (SVIT) model, in place from 1991 to September 12, 2010.
Overtime and human resource capacity are the two most significant resources needed to operate the Domestic Offender Crimes Section.
There was no pilot project; the model was initiated after a review of the previous model.
The six DOCS detectives handle about 100 files per year with a 92% conviction rate. The new DOCS model has resulted in performance improvements in the investigation of serious and complex cases, the debriefing of investigations, and the assessment of outcomes for potential risk reduction. DOCS detectives have assisted patrol officers with complex investigations and participated in a number of successful criminal investigations that have resulted in positive feedback from the Crown Prosecutor's Office. Through cross-training between social workers and the DOCS team, there is better understanding between police and social services regarding the work of each service on domestic violence. An evaluation of this initiative is not planned at this time.
In addition to the key outcomes mentioned in "Key Outcomes of the Initiative," a positive mentoring relationship has been developed between patrol members and DOCS detectives whereby the detective utilizes the initial primary constable to assist in the investigation even after the detective has assumed the file as primary. This assists patrol members with complex investigations, which optimizes patrol services’ time spent on domestic violence files.DOCS’s participation in a number of successful criminal investigations has resulted in positive feedback from the Crown Prosecutor’s Office. Comprehensive Crown packages are now the expected standard by the Crown for DOCS investigations.Benefits for the victims: professional handling of complex and serious cases, knowledge of and access to supports and other community assistance, expert legal advice in relation to EPOs and other types of restraining orders. We reduce the risk of re-victimization.Because DOCS has interaction with social workers, they become much more familiar with the domestic violence police work, and the EPS also becomes more familiar with services that are provided by the social workers—cross-training.
This section was developed in order to better address domestic violence and prevent further intimate partner violence.
Domestic violence continues to erode our social fabric. Solutions to family violence are multi-faceted. Different approaches can provide positive solutions and outcomes. While the need remains to focus on victim-based intervention and advocacy strategies, the DOCS service-delivery model enables offender-based harm-reduction strategies. As DOCS gains credibility, through positive role-modeling, the hope is that all members will be encouraged to develop behaviours that will lend to successful service-wide enhancements of domestic violence investigations.