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Officers should have cameras when responding to domestic violence: committee

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Manitoba’s Domestic Violence Death Review Committee wants all police officers to have cameras when responding to domestic violence calls so that injuries to victims can be photographed immediately.

That’s one of committee’s recommendations in its first report to Justice Minister Andrew Swan made public today. The committee was created by the province in June 2010 as a way to prevent more women from being killed by their husbands and boyfriends.

The committee’s report is based on its review of one Manitoba domestic homicide. Specifics of that case were not released for privacy reasons.

"Significant work has gone into reviewing the circumstances of a domestic violence tragedy," Swan said in a statement. "We are committed to identifying factors and making changes that could save lives in the future. This was not an easy process for the committee and I thank them for their ongoing efforts."

The committee includes representatives from Manitoba Justice Victims’ Services, Prosecution Services and Adult Probation Services along with the Family Violence Prevention Program, Manitoba Status of Women, Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Winnipeg Police Service, RCMP and RESOLVE, a regional family violence research network.

Its task is to review selected criminal justice cases to identify trends, risk factors and patterns. Committee members explore the history, circumstances and conduct of the perpetrators, victims and their families. They can also can interview people close to the case who may have insight, such as friends, family or even the perpetrator.

When it was created, the committee was to look at some of the nearly 40 "intimate partner" homicides that have occurred since 2006 once the cases have been dealt with by the courts.

Swan also said the committee’s recommendations are being implemented.

Its other recommendations include:

  • requiring ongoing domestic violence training for medical professionals and police agencies;
  • developing a public awareness campaign that specifically targets youth and promotes healthy relationships, as well as domestic violence support services for family members including advertising the domestic violence toll-free number as a resource for families who have loved ones involved in these relationships;
  • reviewing and exploring the use of risk-factor checklists and the implications for police, victim services, prosecutions and corrections, and reporting to the advisory committee on the findings;
  • reviewing and exploring services available to family members impacted by domestic homicide that offer practical assistance, and recommending where and how families can receive this support; and
  • reviewing and exploring the creation of an information-sharing protocol with animal welfare services in recognition that domestic violence is often linked to cases involving animal cruelty.

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