A social worker has teamed up with Richelieu-Saint-Laurent Police and will accompany men arrested for domestic violence to prevent repeat and fatal acts, a unique project in Quebec.
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“I was marked by the femicide wave [en 2021]. In most cases, the neighbors knew the man, there had already been an arrest or conditions such as a ban on contact. The judiciary alone cannot contain the phenomenon,” notes Geneviève Landry, director of Entraide pour hommes.
She is behind this pilot project together with Captain Francis Lepage of the Richelieu-Saint-Laurent inter-communal police agency.
Photo Erika Aubin
Director Geneviève Landry and Captain Francis Lepage
Last May, worker Audrey Lincourt entered the offices of the Montérégie Police Department. Each morning, she trawls through the reports of domestic violence interventions that have been carried out on the territory over the past few days.
24 to 48 hours after an arrest, she phones the men to ensure psychosocial follow-up care. To her surprise, more than half accept her help, says the social worker.
“At first I thought I would get kicked out a lot, but not at all. I’m like a fool so they can explain themselves, give their version of the facts,” explains Mme Lincourt.
His job then is to guide those who want to adopt the right organization depending on the problem.
For Captain Lepage, responsible for the socio-societal component, the project started with a simple observation: “During a police operation, we care a lot about the victims, we lead them to resources, but we have forgotten the man a little bit,” he said in an interview with The newspaper in service offices.
“During one operation, the police asked him if he wanted a worker to accompany him, and we were told, ‘I don’t need that’. At this point it’s not the right time to ask that, they’re still in a state of shock from being arrested,” he continues.
Too many reps
In 2021, Richelieu-Saint-Laurent police officers intervened in no fewer than 670 domestic violence situations, or nearly two a day. And it’s not uncommon for the police to see the same men again, stresses Captain Francis Lepage.
“We have to take responsibility [les auteurs de violence] and install a safety net. This allows problems to be mitigated in advance. And our ultimate goal is to significantly reduce the number of recurrences,” explains Geneviève Landry.
She now hopes the innovative project will expand to other ministries in the province.
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