P.E.I. pursuing 'third option' for sexual assault reporting
Evidence from rape kits would be stored for up to a year
P.E.I.'s department of Justice and Public Safety is working to implement a "third option" for reporting sexual assaults, according to minister Bloyce Thompson.
The third option allows sexual assault survivors more time to consider whether they want to pursue a formal complaint.
A complainant can have evidence collected in the form of a rape kit stored for up to a year while they decide what to to do.
"It's important to have that evidence going forward if a victim chooses to use it in a later date," Thompson said.
"It's all about the victim and support for the victim."
PC MLA called for option in 2017
The third option is currently in place in other Canadian jurisdictions. In 2017, PC MLA Sidney MacEwen — then in Opposition — called on government to make the option available on P.E.I.
Thompson said it's something his department has been working on for some time, but he says there are details that still need to be worked out.
"We're just taking the due diligence to make sure we get it right. There's a lot of cross-department information we have to gather, with the department of health, department of justice, the police and communities as well," Thompson said.
Thompson said the biggest challenge right now is storage.
"The challenge is to keep the integrity of the evidence. It's vital evidence, and to keep the integrity of it, it has to be stored in a really safe and specific place."
Thompson said his department is exploring options, and looking at what is being done in other jurisdictions. He said he's not sure yet what the cost to implement this system would be.
It's all about the victim and support for the victim.— Bloyce Thompson
"It's a minor detail in the process. It's more important that we keep the integrity of the evidence, and make it happen sooner than later."
While he couldn't provide a specific timeline, Thompson said he would like to see the third option in place on P.E.I. within a year.