A $99,000 provincial grant to help fight intimate partner violence (IPV) was welcome news this month, with numbers on the rise in Sarnia, said deputy police chief Julie Craddock.
“This is good news for us,” Craddock said of the announcement of $98,998 for ‘enhanced service delivery for victims and survivors of intimate partner violence’ through the Ontario government’s Victim Support Grant (VSG) program.
She said the Sarnia Police Service (SPS) applied specifically for the grant in the wake of a 15% increase in domestic violence and sexual violence crisis line calls, as reported by the Sarnia-Lambton Coordinating Committee on Violence Against Women.
For local police, IPV investigations are up 13% so far this year, over 2022.
“These types of offences have severe psychological consequences,” said Craddock, who stressed the need for trauma-informed, front-line training.
The service is partnering with both Victim Services of Sarnia-Lambton and the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre of Sarnia-Lambton to utilize the grant for a number of initiatives including a trauma-informed response for those reporting incidents (frontline training), investigative training, and the integration of a Victim Services coordinator into the SPS to review incidents of IPV and provide ongoing outreach and support to victims/survivors.
“Risk assessment is a cornerstone of effective case management in contemporary policing,” Craddock stated. “In addition, providing culturally competent and trauma-informed care to victims and survivors suffering from psychological and/or physical trauma as a result of Intimate Partner Violence is a requirement in order to better understand the neurobiology behind trauma and how that affects a person’s response.”
The grant was part of some $4 million being delivered across the province to help support victims and survivors of intimate partner violence, domestic violence, human trafficking and child exploitation, the province said in a news release.
Earlier this month, members of Lambton County Council voted unanimously to declare IPV an epidemic in the City of Sarnia and County of Lambton, and to push for the province to do the same. Council also voted unanimously to ask the province to provide adequate funding for the Women’s Interval Home, Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre and Victim Services of Sarnia-Lambton.
That came following a presentation from a coalition of agencies, including the Coordinating Committee on Violence Against Women, pointing to an increase in requests for service, the severity of the cases, and the notable increase in femicides in Sarnia-Lambton and Ontario since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.