In the late 1980s and early 1990s, across North America, there was a recognition on the part of law enforcement agencies and legislators of the potential threat posed by those who engage in harassing, threatening and stalking behaviours.
- Canada's criminal harassment legislation was enacted August 1, 1993
- The Ontario Provincial Police established a Threat Assessment Section in 1995
In March of 1999, the Behavioural Assessment Section was established as there was a need to bring together experienced investigators trained in Offender Behaviour and Investigative Analysis, Offender Management and Polygraph.
The Behavioural Assessment Section (BAS) is currently a sub-unit of Sex Crimes. It is a resource for any officer conducting investigations involving stalking, threatening or harassing behaviour as well as offering such services as polygraph, ViCLAS, high-risk release management and behavioural sciences support.
The underlying goal in all of the BAS activities is crime prevention; to prevent future victims by applying innovative intervention strategies to existing criminal investigations and potentially violent situations.
A core group of officers in this section are specially trained in the areas of,
- The Threat Assessment Section provides investigative support to investigations involving threats to individuals or groups. The ability to assess the potential for violence with some degree of accuracy is paramount in not only preventing future violence, but also in the effective management of a case.
- A threat assessment is a valuable resource in cases where a potential for violence exists for a victim of stalking, threatening or harassing behaviour. Threat assessment plays an important role in responding to workplace violence, threats of product tampering, inappropriate communications and known high risk offenders or sex offenders.
- Coupled with other investigative disciplines, threat assessment assists in the management and prevention of violent crime and may assist in determining the direction of an investigation.
High Risk Offender Management
- The High Risk Offender Program is an innovative means by which the Service in carrying out its role in the criminal justice system, is taking preventive action by dealing with persons deemed to be a "High Risk" to offend or re-offend violently and/or sexually. The program addresses problems that can occur with an individual who has served full sentence and is to be released into the community without supervision. Understanding that they pose a potential risk to the community, the offenders themselves become willing participants in the program. Appropriate conditions are agreed upon that balance the needs of the community with the needs of the high risk individual.
- This program could not function without the active participation of many parts of the community, including the Mennonite Central Committee, Correctional Service of Canada and other police agencies throughout Canada
- The polygraph unit provides testing services and expertise in interview, interrogation and statement analysis to the Toronto Police and other police services. This is a reliable means of evaluating an individual's truthfulness and deception that leads to confessions, the detection of criminal offences, the recovery of property and redirects investigative efforts to solve crime.
- The polygraph instrument tests physiological responses during a structured interview regarding an individual's involvement in a criminal investigation. Heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and galvanic skin conductivity are recorded.
- Polygraph examinations can be conducted on suspects, informants, and complainants in criminal investigations.
- The Toronto Police has a detective who is trained to administer psychophysiological detection of deception tests (lie detector tests).
S.O.R.E.U. (Sex Offender Registry Enforcement Unit)
Ontario's Sex Offender Registry was sparked by the brutal 1988 murder of 11-year-old Christopher Stephenson at the hands of a convicted pedophile on federal statutory release. At the 1993 inquest into Christopher's death, the coroner's jury recommended creating a national registry for convicted sex offenders, requiring them to register with their local police service.
Christopher's death highlighted the need to provide police services with greater ability to monitor sex offenders in our communities. Agreeing with the jury's recommendations, the Government of Ontario took the initiative and introduced legislation to create Canada's first provincial registry of convicted sex offenders.
With the encouragement and support of the Stephenson family, victims' groups and law enforcement organizations, Christopher's Law (Ontario Sex Offender Registry 2000) was proclaimed on April 23, 2001, making the Ontario Sex Offender Registry a reality.
Christopher's Law represents a vital step in fighting crime, protecting vulnerable children and adults and safeguarding our communities. The Ontario Sex Offender Registry is a provincial registration system for sex offenders that have been released into the community, obligating them to report annually to police. During the registration process, police enter information on these individuals into a database.
The Ontario Sex Offender Registry includes such information as
- Date of birth
- Current address
- Current photograph
- Detailed descriptions
- Sex offence(s) for which the offender is responsible
The public does not have access to the Ontario Sex Offender Registry. It is a database that provides police services with important information that improves their ability to investigate sex-related crimes as well as monitor and locate sex offenders in the community.
Offenders are required to first register with their local police service within 7 days of being convicted of a criteria sex offence and not sentenced to a custodial term, within 7 days after being released from custody in respect of a sex offence, or within 7 days of being found not criminally responsible for a criteria sex offence. This registration facility for the City of Toronto is located at the Bail and Parole Unit at 2440 Lawrence Avenue East.
Offenders are required to re-register no earlier than 11 months and no later than 1 year from the date of their last registration or no later than 7 days of changing addresses.
Under Christopher's Law, authority to arrest requires a warrant issued under the Provincial Offences Act. The warrant only authorizes the arrest of the offender for the purpose of registration and once registered, the offender shall be released forthwith. Once released a charge may be laid by way of a Form 104.