Saskatchewan

Regina Police Service will not automatically name victims of homicides

The Regina Police Service will no longer be automatically releasing the names of homicide victims in the city.

Spokesperson says names are available in public court documents

Previously, investigators would notify a homicide victim's family of the death and inform them that the victim's name would be released in a press release. (Alec Salloum/CBC)

The Regina Police Service will no longer be automatically releasing the names of the city's homicide victims.

Police spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich announced the change Tuesday, saying victims' names will be available in publicly available court documents.

The police do not automatically name victims of other crimes, Popowich said.

"A deceased person has a right to privacy, as does the family of the deceased person," she said. 

Regina Police Service spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich said Regina policewill no longer provide the names of homicide victims. (CBC)

Previously, investigators would notify a homicide victim's family of the death and inform them that the victim's name would be released in a press release.

Going forward, names will only be released if there's a public safety risk or if it's necessary for the investigation, Popowich said. 

A court official said documents will be publicly available, but not until the person charged has made a court appearance. 

RCMP decide on case-by-case basis

For the Saskatchewan RCMP, the decision on whether or not to name the victim of a homicide is made on a case-by-case basis, according to Cpl. Rob King.

King said they consider the Privacy Act and look at several aspects:

  • is the information public already?
  • Is it necessary to name the victims?
  • Does the disclosure of that information outweigh the need for privacy?

The RCMP may withhold the name of a homicide victim if no charges are laid yet, if it relates to a domestic dispute or if the naming may lead to the identification of a child.

Saskatoon police also go case-by-case

The Saskatoon Police Service also decide whether to name a homicide victim on a case-by-case basis. 

Alyson Edwards, director of public affairs for the SPS, said the decision to withhold a name usually stems from a request by a victim's family. 

She said there is no black-and-white policy when to name a victim.

Edmonton Police Service withhold 40% of homicide victims' names in 2017

The Edmonton Police Service has been questioned publicly multiple times since it introduced a similar policy in January 2017.

There were 42 homicides in Edmonton last year, and 17 of the victims were not named.

By comparison, the Calgary Police Service did not withhold the name of any of its 27 homicide victims while the RCMP K Division withheld the names of eight of 46 homicide victims.

With files from Stephanie Taylor

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