In order to enhance understanding of the various practices in use, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) contracted the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance (CSKA) to examine the practice of naming homicide victims across Canada, using both quantitative and qualitative review strategies. Its purpose is to review practices within Canadian policing jurisdictions as well as key stakeholder perspectives to better understand the various arguments to support the Chief of the Edmonton Police Service in making a well-informed decisions in this regard.
Since 2015 a growing number of Canadian police services have been withholding the names of homicide victims. In many cases, information containing the name of a victim is only released if there is an investigative need or after a victim’s family has provided consent. However, this practice is not consistently applied across the nation and has proven to be controversial.
There are significant differences in perspectives regarding the release of a victim’s name following a homicide, and these differing arguments have been brought forward by police services, victim advocacy groups, privacy commissions, civil libertarians, researchers, and the media. A key consideration in these discussions relates to the importance of balancing the public’s need to know about crimes occurring in their communities—which ensures the transparency of public services—with respect for the privacy of the families of murdered victims.