The Report Homophobic Violence, Period (RHVP) program is an initiative of the Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) LGBT Community Consultative Committee (CCC), and was developed in partnership with 21 different agencies, community service providers and community organizations. Today, the RHVP program has over 70 community partner organizations across Canada, and Egale Canada serves as the national and international dissemination partner, delivering training and materials.
The program engages victims of hate crimes, police services, and the broader community with the goal of improving the lives of victims who have been affected by hate crimes, reducing hate-based victimization for the entire community, and building a safer atmosphere where victims of hate crimes have confidence that police will investigate their concerns thoroughly while treating them with respect and understanding.
The RHVP program employs a four-pronged approach:
- Victim sessions will help create a network and community of shared experience where victims can share their stories and help each other on their journeys of self restoration. Additionally, victims will have the opportunity to brainstorm and recommend helpful services and interventions for victims of hate crime.
- Police training sessions are designed to give police the tools they need to fully identify and understand hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression, and to engage with the LGBTQ community. These sessions will build a safer atmosphere where victims of hate crime have sustained confidence in their police services.
- Community sessions will help to make the community more aware of Canada’s hate crime laws and of how police services can respond and intervene. These community sessions will also be used as forums for distributing materials that will encourage reporting hate crime incidents and publicize heightened police and community sensitivity to hate crime victimization.
- Resource materials are used to encourage reporting of hate crime incidents to local police services, as well as help to publicize heightened police and community sensitivity to hate crime victimization. These materials include: Hate Crime Incident Reporting Cards, Hate Crime Awareness and Prevention Guides, LGBTQ Youth Suicide Prevention Guides, Policing and the Trans Community Guides, and a new Resource Guide for victims of hate crime.
The RHVP program focuses on crime-prevention strategies targeting bullying before it reaches the criminal threshold of a hate/bias crime. RHVP also provides education and awareness regarding patterns of behavior which may lead to the commission of hate crimes.
In the case of an offence, the program stresses the need to report hate-motivated incidents and offers a number of options to both victims and witnesses if they do not feel comfortable talking to police. It is designed to empower young people who have been found to experience profound levels of harassment regardless of changing societal attitudes.
According to Statistics Canada:
- Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation doubled in 2008, and increased by another 18% in 2009.
- In 2009, 74% of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation were violent crimes, with common assault being the most frequent type of violent offence. As a result, 63% of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation resulted in physical injury to the victim—far more than any other identifiable group.
- A youth phenomenon:
- The peak ages of those accused of hate crimes in Canada are 17 and 18; over half of both victims and those accused are between 12 and 22.
- Educational facilities rank second among offence locations.
The RHVP program has been widely recognized for its innovative approach to engaging youth, community organizations and police in reporting and preventing hate crimes. In particular, the program received the 2008 Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Community Policing Award. In 2010, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s ranked RHVP among the top 10 for the Motorola Webber Seavey Award for quality in law enforcement and community policing excellence.
The results of this program can be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. In quantitative terms, the TPS—within six months of the launch of RHVP—noted a 100% increase in police-reported hate crimes against the LGBT community. In qualitative terms, the program has assisted in further strengthening the relationship between the LGBT community and the Service. Success in qualitative terms is also witnessed by the interest of other law enforcement agencies to adopt/adapt the program in their respective jurisdictions. To date, RHVP training and education has been delivered to communities and police services in over 20 different cities and regions across Canada.