In a criminal investigation, the child will be asked about the alleged abuse by trained professionals who work together in the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre Multidisciplinary Team. The goal of the investigation and interview with the child is to gather all the relevant information about what occurred. These interviews are often led by specially trained investigators who gather all the evidence needed to proceed with a criminal case, and who work with the other members of the team to ensure the protection, safety and well-being of the child is met.
The role of Calgary Region Child and Family Services
Calgary Region Child and Family Services ensures that children are safe and families have the resource needed to ensure the safety of the child. Working in partnership with the Calgary Police Service and other jurisdictions in an investigation enables all partners to assess the initial concerns and provide appropriate support and follow-up.
Video recording of interviews
Video statements are done for several reasons. Video-recorded interviews are a standard requirement for court. A video recording makes sure that nothing has been added or taken away from the interview. It allows for the child to be able to explain their story with little distraction and there is less chance of influence as the information is coming directly from the child’s mouth (as opposed to from written notes taken on that day).
Video recording allows the court to see everything that occurred within the interview room, including what was said and the body language displayed.
Video interviews also allow investigators to get detailed information as soon after a disclosure as possible and provide the opportunity to review the interview later if any clarification needed.
Taking part in the interview or viewing the video recording
The video interview is evidence that can be used in court. It is important that this information is held confidential. Every witness’ testimony should be an accurate picture of what they remember about the situation without influence from anything else. Parents or other family members may be asked to testify and, if they have seen the video recording, it may influence what they say in court. Any influence like this can be used in court to discredit the case.
When and how charges are laid against the perpetrator
The police will lay charges as soon as there is enough evidence to do so. In order to get sufficient evidence to have the grounds to lay charges, police need to gather all appropriate information from all relevant sources. This process can take some time. In general, the alleged offender will be the last individual to be interviewed. It is important to stress that police can only lay charges if there is enough evidence to do so. If charges do not get laid, it does not mean that the child or family is not believed, or that what happened to them is not significant.
Once charges have been laid, the alleged offender will be advised of the charges and read their rights. Sometimes an alleged offender will be arrested and held in custody until that individual has a bail hearing in court, or they may be released on a promise to appear. Promise to appear means that the alleged offender will not be held in custody but will be released on the expectation that they will appear in court when required to do so, and sometimes with additional conditions they are to abide by.