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Low sexual assault convictions in Vancouver focus of new campaign

2.9 per cent campaign wants the Vancouver police to make changes regarding sexual assault cases.
2.9 per cent campaign wants the Vancouver police to make changes regarding sexual assault cases. File Photo

On April 26, the Vancouver Police Board and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will review a complaint put forward by a campaign that questions the success rate of prosecuting sexual assault cases.

According to a Freedom of Information request filed by Global News in 2016, only 2.9 per cent of reported sexual assaults in Vancouver end in conviction.

It’s a statistic that Catherine Francioli, one of the initiators of the “2.9 per cent” campaign, relates with.

LISTEN: New campaign aims to bring attention to low sex assault conviction rates 
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On June 2016, Francioli was violently thrown to the ground as a man attempted to sexually assault her just half a block away from her home in East Vancouver. She fought back, and called the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) when the man fled the scene.

“It was late at night, I was scared, it was a random stranger,” she said “They [police] showed up and I felt like, ‘OK, you know things are happening.’”

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However, after the second day of dealing with the police, Francioli said there was radio silence.

“I felt like I kept having to advocate for my own case to see if they were going to do anything about this.”

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Eventually, Francioli says she was told her case was closed.

“Not officially closed in the sense that they would not re-open it, but that was it,” she said

READ MORE: Less than 3% of sexual assault reports in Vancouver end with convictions

In a statement given to the Simi Sara Show, VPD said sex assault investigations are “some of the most challenging investigations.”

Police said that back in 2016, the department recommended charges in “almost 24 per cent” of all 465 reported incidents that involved sexual assault.

But Francioli said she found it interesting that not even one-quarter of the sexual assaults reported got recommended for charges.

“My experience and the experience of many women that I’ve spoken to about sexual assault and reporting it to the VPD, is that not a lot happens when you report,” she said.

“And I think that’s exactly why the charges are so low, and then maybe even reflected in their convictions is that there’s not really a lot of work being done behind the scenes to make a case.”

According to the FOI request in 2016, over 5,200 sexual cases were reported from 2005 to 2015 in Vancouver, but only 2.9 per cent ended up as convictions.

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The complaint will be heard at Vancouver Police Headquarters on April 26 at 1 p.m.

— With files from Jill Slattery