Quebec police forces to hire staff specialized in handling domestic violence
MONTREAL -- Quebec’s public safety minister has announced a suite of new measures aimed at preventing domestic abuse, including the hiring of staff specializing in domestic violence within local police forces.
In total, Quebec is providing $71 million in new funding for the measures announced Thursday amid the backdrop of a worrisome rise in domestic violence in Quebec.
To date, there have been 10 reported killings of women allegedly by their male partners.
Public Safety Minister Genevieve Guilbault announced $27 million over five years will go toward equipping police forces, such as the Surete du Quebec and the Montreal police, as well as correctional services, with domestic violence specialists.
At least three police forces have already embarked on the program, Guilbault said. Their role will be to co-ordinate and train officers who find themselves answering calls of domestic violence.
"The main goals of these projects is to have better support for the victims, to have an increased surveillance for the offenders," she said.
Correctional services will get extra funding so experts can better detect suspects who may pose a risk if released on bail, for example.
The province also announced that it is expanding a release assessment for people accused of domestic violence used in some jurisdictions to all of Quebec, in an attempt to protect women from further harm.
The largest portion of funding — $44 million—is going to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et penales (DPCP) to ensure survivors of domestic abuse will be supported by a single prosecutor from the beginning to the very end of the legal process.
The initiative is designed to maintain trust between the survivor and Crown and keep the survivor informed of the steps in the criminal process.
"We are talking about 40 more prosecutors that only do that," said justice minister Simon Jolin-Barrette.
"From the beginning to the end of the judicial process, it will be the same prosecutor who will take time to explain what's coming in the next months, next year."
Women’s shelters that were critical, at first, of the government’s response to the wave of femicides said they’re satisfied with these new initiatives.
"In the past, there's been a lack of confidence in the process, so the fact that you'll have a prosecutor that will meet with them, talk with them, be there throughout the whole time and spend time with them will help them regain control over their lives," said Helene, an employee of the West-Island Women’s Shelter, whose last name can’t be identified for safety reasons.
The new funding announced Thursday is the third anti-violence initiative that is part of the $229 million that was announced two weeks ago.
-- With files from CTV Montreal's Stephane Giroux