How the RNC deals with intimate partner violence
Critics of justice system's handling of abusive relationships says more must be done
A specialized unit within the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary that's dedicated to reducing intimate partner violence (IPV) says it tracks individuals and warning signs to keep people from being victimized.
This week, CBC News has explored many issues related to partner-on-partner violence, including stories from two women who were abused and say the justice system isn't doing enough to curb assaults by husbands and boyfriends.
The IPV unit monitors cases going through the court system involving abusive relationships, and takes note of any court conditions a person is ordered to comply with. That could mean staying a certain distance away from an ex partner or obeying the terms of a curfew.
We try to look at the bigger picture in terms of property damage, criminal harassment and stalking.- Malin Enstrom
If there's concern, the IPV unit can call on a separate undercover unit within the RNC that deals with compliance of orders, which can monitor a person of interest.
"Just being aware of vehicles being driven by accused persons, checking the area of the victims, making sure those accused persons are not around," Const. Lindsay Dillon told the St. John's Morning Show Thursday.
Malin Enstrom is a civilian member of the force and a crime analyst — identifying crime patterns, trends and backgrounds.
She works to identify at-risk couples and flags escalation in violence in existing relationships.
"Physical assaults and choking are in itself a red flag but we try to look at the bigger picture in terms of property damage, criminal harassment and stalking," Enstrom said.
"In its isolation, it may not look like intimate partner violence but when you add to the bigger picture you get an image of escalation [of violence]."
Help when no charges laid
If a woman needs protection but isn't quite ready to come forward and lay a charge, Dillon said the RNC can offer a safety plan.
"It's a quick reference to what you can do, who you need to contact, resources that are available for them," she said.
Dillon said the unit can let other officers know where the woman lives so they can keep an eye out.
There's also a "residential hazard" designation that can be placed on the home where the victim lives so that if she calls 911, officers will know there is a history of abuse and respond quickly, Dillon said.
Statistics Canada says one out of every two women 15 and older in Newfoundland and Labrador will experience physical or sexual violence.
In 2015, 1,109 women reported violence by a boyfriend or husband, while 343 men reported an assault by their partner.
With files from Meghan McCabe and the St. John's Morning Show