Balancing Transparency and Accountability with Privacy in Improving the Police Handling of Sexual Assaults
42 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2015
Date Written: November 27, 2015
This paper considers the potential for the adoption in Ontario of a model, developed in Philadelphia and implemented in other U.S. cities, that has proven successful in significantly improving police handling of sexual assault cases and public confidence in the system. This model directly involves front-line sexual assault victim advocates working with police in systematic reviews of police sexual assault records, with a particular focus on ‘unfounded’ cases. Resistance to the adoption of this model in Canada has focused on arguments around public sector privacy legislation. We therefore explore the Philadelphia model through a transparency and accountability lens in the Canadian context. We suggest that the concepts of ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ are too often conflated with the disclosure of data or information through access to information channels, and we argue for a more robust understanding of these concepts. We also argue that the conventional access to information model should not be allowed to obstruct meaningful transparency and accountability by using privacy arguments to create barriers to change.
Keywords: privacy, transparency, sexual assault, access to information, policing
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