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Domestic Violence & Criminal Harassment Unit
The Vancouver Police Department's Domestic Violence & Criminal Harassment Unit (DVACH) is comprised of four specialty units: Domestic Violence, Criminal Harassment, Threat Assessment, and Elder Abuse.
DVACH has partnered with Family Services of Greater Vancouver (FSGV) since 1997, providing a collaborative response to incidents of domestic violence in the community. FSGV provides confidential support on high-risk domestic violence and elder abuse cases.The program’s goals are to increase safety of victims and their families, and to increase offender accountability.
Violence within relationships has distinctive dynamics not found in other violent crimes,and often escalates or worsens if the person leaves the relationship. There is usually a power imbalance between the partners in the relationship.
The VPD has adopted the Ministry of Attorney General guidelines for police and crown prosecutors in the Violence Against Women in Relationships (VAWIR) Policy.
- all incidents involving domestic violence will be investigated thoroughly
- if there is enough evidence to support an arrest and charge, police officers will do so
- officers will make an arrest when an investigation supports a criminal charge (with an emphasis on victim safety)
- members will not to try other resolutions
- officers are encouraged to seek further guidance/clarification from DVACH when required
DVACH also provides education and training to VPD members and to the public.
What is Domestic Violence?
When people refer to violence in relationships, they are usually talking about abuse, which includes a range of behaviour from intimidation and threats, to physical or sexual assault.
An abuser uses threats and violence to gain power and control over his or her partner, and to take away their self-worth. For the purpose of this section, “domestic violence” is violence against women or men who are married, common-law, or dating, regardless of their sexual orientation. It includes those individuals who are in an intimate relationship or have been in the past.
Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal, or financial. Some examples of abusive behaviour:
- humiliating or degrading you in front of others
- isolating you or stopping you from leaving the home (including removing the phone, taking the only vehicle when you live far from town, or not letting you see friends or family)
- yelling at you, insulting you, or calling you names
- constantly criticizing and blaming you for everything
- controlling and limiting what you do, where you go, who you see
- threatening to hurt you, your children, someone you know, or anything that is special to you (like a pet or something you treasure)
- frightening you by driving recklessly or threatening you with a weapon
- breaking your things, damaging property
- taking your money or controlling all the money in the household and not letting you have any
- threatening to have you deported
- opening and reading your mail or other private papers
- following you or watching you wherever you are
- repeatedly phoning you (for example, at work or in the middle of the night)
- forcing you into sexual activity that you don’t want
- shoving, slapping, choking, punching, or kicking you
- hurting you with an object of any kind
Abuse may start out as verbal or emotional, and may gradually increase to physical or sexual violence. After incidents of abuse, a partner or ex-partner can express and behave with great remorse or affection.
What is Criminal Harassment?
You may be dealing with criminal harassment if you are concerned, worried or afraid because someone is:
- threatening or following you, your children, family members or friends
- waiting and watching or tracking you, your children, grandchildren, or others close to you
- threatening to harm or damage your property or pets
- calling you repeatedly, hanging up or not speaking when you answer
- calling your children, family members, friends or co-workers and asking about you
- sending you things you don't want
Criminal harassment may include vandalism or other minor criminal offences when they form a deliberate pattern leading the victim to fear for their safety. Such offences, combined with the above (following, watching, etc.) may indicate the severity of the situation and the degree of risk to the victim.
A stalker can be anyone: a spouse/partner, a person who lived with the victim, someone they dated, a client, a former employee, a co-worker, a fellow student, a peer, or a total stranger. Victims of stalking often feel powerless, overwhelmed, confused, isolated, and afraid to leave their home.
Victims of criminal harassment are impacted in many ways, including, but not limited to:
- emotional or physical safety is being threatened
- lifestyle is impacted – you can't do what you want or go where you want
- routines are impacted - you've changed your lifestyle to avoid this person
Threat Assessment Unit
Members in this Unit have specialized skills and training in threat assessment and safety planning. They perform threat assessments for DVACH’s highest-risk cases, and are a resource for other sections conducting high-risk investigations.
Elder Abuse Unit
The Vancouver Police Department’s Elder Abuse Unit is a collaborative unit of detectives partnered with a victim support worker from FSGV. The support worker provides outreach support to victims, families, witnesses, and at times will work with offenders to assist them with various resources, such as addictions counselling, therapy and housing.
The Elder Abuse Unit assists with investigations relating to:
- elder abuse and neglect (the age of an elder is generally considered to be 65 years of age, however, this can be assessed on a case-by-case basis)
- abuse and neglect of older and vulnerable people in power-based relationships (spouses abusing spouses, children abusing elderly parents)
- incidents where an elder’s finances are being negatively impacted by the actions of a family member, an acquaintance, or a person of authority