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Saskatoon saw a 14 per cent rise in intimate partner violence last year, police say

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Incidents of intimate partner violence were up 14 per cent in 2023, according to a new report from the Saskatoon police.

The data before the city’s civilian police board meeting on Thursday shows reports of intimate partner violence were at a five-year high last year, with 720 incidents — 535 of which led to charges.

(Source: Saskatoon Police Service)

Intimate partner violence (IPV) refers to serious harms caused by a current or former romantic partner or spouse. It can present as physical or sexual abuse, stalking, financial abuse or coercive control.

In his report to the police board, Staff Sergeant Dale Amyotte said rates of intimate partner violence are on the rise nationally, but Saskatoon police are concerned about the disproportionately high rate in Saskatchewan.

Police believe one quarter of the murders in Saskatoon last year were related to intimate partner violence, says Amyotte.

“In 2023, four of the 12 homicides recorded in Saskatoon had an IPV component linked to the investigation. Three of the charged individuals were male, with the remaining being female.”

Among the factors police say contribute to the high rate of violence between romantic partners are discrimination, poverty, gender equality, mental health and addictions.

“Further, belief systems and social norms between cultures contribute to reported crimes here in Saskatoon,” Amyotte wrote.

In Saskatchewan, people who believe they may be at risk of harm by a current or former partner have the right to ask police for information about the partner’s history of violent or abusive behaviour — a measure known as Clare’s Law.

“Domestic homicide reviews show that a history of IPV and other related criminal activity are major risk factors for re-occurring violence. By identifying and sharing these risk factors with eligible applicants, police can reduce incidents of IPV and decrease the risk of intimate partner homicide,” Amyotte says.

Family members or close friends also have a right to ask police for this information if they’re concerned someone close to them may be at risk, according to information from the Ministry of Justice.

In his report to the board of commissioners, Amyotte says the law helps empower people to make informed decisions about potential risks in their relationships.

“Clare’s Law is meant to be proactive, as opposed to reactive. It provides potential victims with important information, allowing them the opportunity to make an informed decision therefore reducing violence.”

Amyotte says Saskatoon police are also working on an IPV response team to address the disproportionately high rates in Saskatoon. The team would work with family services outreach workers to provide hands-on victim support and offender management.

He says it would operate similarly to how the police crisis team works when responding to mental health calls.

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