With our Case Management solutions, the evidence is accessible however and whenever it is required.
The Investigation Software Company
Tracking serial predators – Methods much improved since Bernardo case
You’ve probably never heard of the province’s Serial Predator Crime Investigation Co-ordinator.
Even most police officers don’t know what it is.
Yet, without the co-ordinator, serial sex killer Russell Williams might not have been caught so quickly.
Its success should be something to brag about. And yet the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services dragged its feet and made excuses and refused to answer the most basic questions about the SPCIC for three long days until finally they allowed me to speak to Detective Inspector Mark Pritchard of the Ontario Provincial Police, who oversees the position.
“It’s all about preventing further victimization,” he says.
A message the ministry should be eager to send. Let’s backtrack a bit.
I made a brief mention of the SPCIC Monday in my column about Hamilton’s Loujack Café, who is accused of being a serial killer.
Staff Sergeant Steve Hrab of Hamilton police explained that because Café is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, investigators had to notify the SPCIC within seven days. Investigators are mandated by law to contact the co-ordinator any time they believe they have a serial predator on their hands.
Much of what I know about the SPCIC comes from former Hamilton police detective Don Forgan. He went on to become the serial predator co-ordinator from 2008-2011. (At present, it’s an officer from Waterloo.)
When I called him and told him the ministry wasn’t telling me anything, he turned his car around on the highway and came to see me in the newsroom.
His message? The SPCIC works. It helps catch very dangerous criminals. It is a success story.
And, says Forgan, the public has a right to know that.
“Especially,” he adds, “the victims of crime.”
The position was created in 1996 after the arrest of serial killer Paul Bernardo. The Campbell Report, which looked at errors made in that case, concluded there was a dismal lack of communication and co-operation between police services in Ontario and that multi-jurisdictional major case investigations could be improved.
MORE: DANGEROUS AND FREE
Major cases include homicides, non-familial sexual assaults or abductions, criminal harassment where the offender is not known to the victim, missing persons and found human remains where foul play is suspected, or any other offence that is designated by the director of Major Case Management. That’s Pritchard.
Forgan’s background in the forensics, child abuse, sex assault and homicide units in his 35 years with Hamilton police made him perfect for the co-ordinator’s job.
While he was based out of a Toronto-area office, Forgan was on the road most of the time, meeting with investigators across the province.
Police are mandated to contact the co-ordinator “as soon as an officer establishes a link between two or more major cases,” says Forgan. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a single jurisdiction or multi-jurisdiction.”
Russell Williams fell on his watch.
The co-ordinator’s role is to bring representatives — usually inspectors — from each jurisdiction together to form a joint management team and appoint a case manager from one of the involved services. If a manager can’t be agreed upon, there is a pool of qualified case managers available across the province that the co-ordinator can draw from.
But that is rarely necessary, says Forgan.
“Since Bernardo, the culture of these investigations has changed,” he says. “There is much more co-operation now.”
“I always liked if the OPP was involved,” he adds, “because their case managers are basically already multi-jurisdictional.”
The co-ordinator also helps sort out the sharing of resources, such as a file co-ordinator, during the course of an investigation.
Forgan also worked with the province’s PowerCase co-ordinator to alert investigators to possible links between major crimes. PowerCase is a remarkable software program that finds similarities in data inputted from major case investigations around Ontario.
For example, the name of a person of interest.
Pritchard says Bernardo’s name came up six times in different jurisdictions, but police were slow to make the connections.
Forgan points out British Columbia doesn’t have PowerCase. If it did, perhaps Robert Pickton would have been caught sooner.
PICKTON: POLICE DID BEST THEIR BEST
“Ontario has the only linked case management system in the world,” says Pritchard. “Things are substantially better than they were during Bernardo.”
You’d think the province would want the public to know that.
- Building an evidence-based approach to I.P. investigations
- Xanalys team with UCLAN’s Criminal Investigation MSc
- Xanalys will be exhibiting at the TSI Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference and Exhibition 2013
- PowerCase ‘pop-up’ Incident Room
- Xanalys will be exhibiting at the International Crime and Intelligence Analysis Conference – Dec 2012