Peace Bonds and Violence Against Women: A Three-Site Study of the Effect of Bill C-42 on Process, Application and Enforcement

10. Winnipeg (cont'd)

10. Winnipeg (cont'd)

10.2 Respondent Characteristics

Utilising WFVC data cross-referenced with police records for 1993-1997, we find that the average peace bond respondent in Winnipeg is 32.5 years old (n=340).Seventy-one per cent of respondents are male and 23 per cent are female (n=340), although we could not discern gender for 5.6 per cent of the names in the data set.

The average duration of a peace bond issuance in Winnipeg between 1993-1997 was 11.7 months (n=340).Forty-six per cent of persons issued peace bonds in the WFVC had previous records, averaging 6.8 offences (n=157) before the issuance of a section 810 recognizance.

Unlike Halifax, in Winnipeg 98.8 per cent of peace bond respondents (n=336) were also facing other concurrent charges along with the issuance of the recognizance.Of these respondents, 31.8 per cent were facing two or more other charges.This is due to the centralised WFVC and a policy of arrest and charging for cases of domestic violence.

As in the case of Halifax, Table 10.2.1 demonstrates that the most frequent concurrent offence was assault (n=251), followed by threats (n=42).Also as in Halifax, it seems that breaches of court orders (n=9) and breaches of peace bonds (n=9) were sometimes concurrent charges (n=3) so that one breached peace bond was being replaced by another.

Table 10.2.1: Concurrent Offences at Time of PB Issuance, Winnipeg 1993-1997 (n=336)
Assault 251 73.8
Threats 42 12.4
Breach of recognizance 9 2.6
Breach of peace bond 9 2.6
Sexual assault 7 2.1
FMA 5 1.5
Breach of probation 2 0.6

* Does not add to 100 because only top frequencies listed.

10.3 Conditions

In Winnipeg, far fewer peace bonds on the police information systems (local or CPIC) contained information on conditions imposed.In fact, 98.2 per cent of cases had no information about conditions attached to the file (see Table 10.3.1).

Despite this lack of statistical information, Manitoba justice personnel reported that ‘keep the peace and be of good behaviour’ as well as ‘no contact or communication’ were the most common conditions imposed:

The no contact/communication/not to attend, those are the basics.When I say not to attend, are you familiar not to attend at or near their residence or place of work, etc.Those are the generic ones.Some of the other ones are sometimes brought up are the children. (MB Police officer)

Uh, the automatic “keep the peace”, “be on good behaviour” and sometimes it’s a “No contact, no communication”.And not to attend at or near their residence, work place, place of worship. (MB Justice of the Peace)

These observations were affirmed by another J.P. who responded in the following manner:

Well there’s almost always a no contact, for communication, not to attend at the resident's house, you know, those would be the most common things for sure. (MB Justice of the Peace)

Table 10.3.1: Peace Bond Conditions in Police Databases for Winnipeg, 1993-1997 (N=340)
  N % *
No contact 2 0.6
Batterer’s program 1 0.3
Contact only for access to children 1 0.3
No alcohol 1 0.3
No conditions listed on police record 334 98.2

* Does not add to 100 because of multiple conditions per case.

10.4 Breach Rates

As in the case of both Halifax and Hamilton, most persons interviewed in Winnipeg reported that the police would arrest a suspect for both the substantive offence and breach of a peace bond:

Oh no, we arrest for the breach too.It’s a new charge. (MB Police officer)

Maybe you misunderstood, yes, he’d be charged for breach of the peace bond.But in that case we would proceed on the breach of the peace bond and an additional assault.Unless there are compelling reasons not to. (MB Crown attorney)

However, this is not borne out in the police files and key Crown attorneys reported that charging for both would be redundant.In many cases, the breach charge is the first to be dropped during plea-bargaining.As in the case for the Halifax data, the definition employed to ascertain a breach is any criminal offence while under conditions of a peace bond (see section 8.4).Since the Winnipeg peace bond data are based on the WFVC database, all cases are domestic violence related.

Of those persons issued peace bonds in cases of domestic violence in Winnipeg between 1993-1997, ten per cent (n=34) committed an offence while under conditions of the section 810 recognizance.Another 27.9 per cent (n=95) committed an offence after the peace bond had lapsed.In Winnipeg, male respondents had a higher likelihood of re-offending than female respondents both during (12.1% vs. 5.1%) and after the peace bond (33.5% vs. 12.7%).

Table 10.4.1: Peace Bond Breach Rates in Winnipeg, 1993-1997 (N=340)
  During PB After PB
N % N %
All domestic violence related peace bonds 34 10.0 95 27.9
Male respondent (n=242) 29 12.1 81 33.5
Female respondent (n=79) * 4 5.1 10 12.7

* Offender’s gender could not be discerned in 19 cases.

The most common offences committed while under conditions of a peace bond related to domestic violence in Winnipeg is assault (23.3%), followed by failure to attend/disobeying an order (18.3%) and theft (8.3%).The same three offences were also most likely to be committed as offences committed after a peace bond had lapsed, except that the most frequent offence was failure to attend or disobeying an order.

Table 10.4.2: Offences while under Conditions of Peace Bond (Winnipeg, 1993-1997)
OFFENCE (N=60) N % *
Assault 14 23.3
Failure to attend court/ Disobey order 11 18.3
Theft 5 8.3
Operation while impaired 3 5.0
Mischief 3 5.0
Possession of weapon 2 3.3
Misconduct of officers 2 3.3
Uttering threats 2 3.3
False pretence/statement 2 3.3
Uttering forged document 2 3.3
Fraud 2 3.3
Failure to comply 2 3.3

* Does not add to 100 because only top frequencies listed.

Of those committing an offence while under conditions of a peace bond in Winnipeg (n=42), the average number of offences committed was 2.1.For those who committed an offence after the peace bond had lapsed, the average number of offences committed was 3.5.

Table 10.4.3: Offences Committed by Respondents after Peace Bond Lapsed (Winnipeg, 1993-1997)
OFFENCE (N=239) N % *
Failure to attend court / Disobey order 61 25.5
Assault 37 15.5
Theft 23 9.6
Operation while impaired 16 6.7
Uttering threats 13 5.4
Failure to comply 12 5.0
Mischief 9 3.8
Assault w/weapon or causing bodily harm 6 2.5
Breaking and entering 6 2.5
Possession of stolen property 6 2.5
Uttering forged document 5 2.1
False pretence/statement 4 1.7
Fraud 4 1.7
(Narcotics Control Act) possession 3 1.3
(Narcotics Control Act) trafficking 3 1.3
Aggravated assault 2 0.8
Indecent/harassing telephone calls 2 0.8

* Does not add to 100 because only top frequencies listed.

10.5 Sentencing

Of all the offences committed by persons under a peace bond in Winnipeg, the length and severity of sanctions obviously depended on the offence.Offenders who were in breach of a peace bond by committing an offence while it was still in effect were sentenced to an average of 20.6 months probation (n=21) and/or 3.4 months in jail (n=20) and/or $316 in fines (n=11).The major difference between Halifax and Winnipeg is the length of jail sentence.This may have something to do with the specialised nature of the WFVC which concentrates only on family violence matters rather than general criminal cases.

None of the justice personnel interviewed in Winnipeg felt that changes in the maximum sentence length had any effect on sentencing.