NEWS

Missing Women Inquiry to examine RCMP report

01/11/2012 04:14 EST | Updated 03/12/2012 05:12 EDT

A top Alberta Mountie has told the Missing Women Inquiry in Vancouver police could have done a better job with the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton.

Supt. Bob Williams testified he would have been more diligent in following up on a tip that Pickton had murdered a prostitute on his farm in Port Coquitlam, as the inquiry resumed its hearings in Vancouver on Wednesday morning.

The statement was a shift from previous statements made by Williams in a 2002 RCMP internal report.

In that report, which reviewed the RCMP's handling of the Pickton case, Williams gave a relatively positive assessment of the investigation and praised the the RCMP's investigation, according to Robert Gordon, the director of the school of criminology at Simon Fraser University.

The 2002 report said there were difficulties in corroborating allegations that Robert Pickton was involved in killing sex workers at his hog farm in Port Coquitlam, but nevertheless suggested the force did all it could.

The report also said the RCMP was able to work well with the Vancouver police, in contrast to allegations that a turf war had erupted between the two forces. However, it complained that scarce resources had been spread across a number of high-profile cases.

But before the hearing, Gordon told CBC News it's commonplace for police forces to present a picture of inclusion and collaboration.

He compared the 2002 report to a later Vancouver Police Department report that was much more critical of both police forces.

"The Williams report, of course, was produced for a different purpose," he said. "It was primarily to prepare a response to civil litigation, whereas the VPD report, for example, was, I think, very thorough, very candid and of course very apologetic."

The Missing Women Inquiry, which is being run by former B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal, is designed to look at the police mishandling of the Pickton investigation and why the women, particularly those working in the sex trade on the streets of Vancouver, weren't better protected.

Pickton was convicted of six murders in 2007. Investigators have said remains or DNA of 33 women were found on his farm in Port Coquitlam. The serial killer had bragged to police that he had killed 49.

After his 2007 conviction, Pickton was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 25 years.

Earlier reviews pointed to botched police investigations, a reluctance to act because the victims were involved in drugs and the sex trade, and a long list of other failures.

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