REGINA – Victims of sexual assault now have the option of reporting anonymously to police. As of January 1, a pilot program allows adult victims to tell a counsellor what happened without giving their name.
“We looked at it with the Sexual Assault Centre and determined our numbers weren’t matching up,” said Corporal Shannon Gordon with the Regina Police Service.
The majority of sexual assaults are never reported to police. In fact, Statistics Canada estimates only ten per cent of victims file a report.
“Some of them are afraid of police. Some of them are afraid of the criminal justice system as a whole. Some of them are scared to be publicly seen as a victim,” said Gordon.
To use the program, victims report the crime to the Regina Sexual Assault Centre, then a counsellor can alert police of the incident without revealing a name. This way of reporting provides police with some information, rather than none at all. The anonymous report could also be useful for solving other cases.
“To point us in a direction of a potential investigation, either at that time or down the road,” said Gordon.
While no one has yet filed an anonymous report, the Sexual Assault Centre says the program could help victims in their healing process.
“It might be slow in the beginning but, certainly for some people, they would like somebody to know,” said Pat Robinson, a counsellor at the Regina Sexual Assault Centre. “Giving them more options following the assault is another way of assisting them in regaining control over their lives.”
Similar anonymous reporting programs are being used in BC and Ontario, but this is the first of its kind in Saskatchewan. A group of researchers at the University of Regina will be looking over all of the information gathered to determine whether the program is effective.