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Sexual assaults rose 15% in British Columbia, StatCan crime data shows

Click to play video: 'Stats show increase in police-reported violent crimes'
Stats show increase in police-reported violent crimes
The number of police-reported crimes is on the rise according to Statistics Canada. Newly released numbers show sexual assaults are now at the highest level since 1996, and hate crimes are up too. As Richard Zussman reports, those working the front lines are concerned. – Aug 2, 2022

A new report from Statistics Canada shows police-reported sexual assaults went up 15 per cent in British Columbia in 2021 from the prior year.

The rise in sexual assaults is not specific to the province, with the national rate rising 18 per cent, according to StatCan crime data for 2021 released on Tuesday.

“This is a very serious cultural problem we have had with us for decades. What we need is a broad-based approach that includes funding for community organizations,” Angela Marie MacDougall said, executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services.

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Alleged victim denies Hockey Canada’s initial claims she did not cooperate with police

The new data shows sexual assaults went up 14 per cent last year in Vancouver and a staggering 49 per cent in Victoria.

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Even though there has been a general increase in police-reported sexual assault, as well as considerable public discussion of issues around sexual violence in recent years, the number of sexual assaults reported by police is likely a significant underestimation.

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The most recently available self-reported data, from the 2019 General Social Survey on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization), shows that six per cent of sexual assault incidents experienced by Canadians aged 15 and older were brought to the attention of police.

“We know for every report there are even more unreported. It is one of the most unreported violent crimes in Canada,” MacDougall said.

Statistics Canada researchers found that in 2020, pandemic-related lockdown conditions could have exacerbated issues around underreporting of sexual assaults.

There are some indications that family violence services and victims of family violence were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

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Supreme Court of Canada rules condom use can affect consent in sexual assault cases

In a statement, public safety minister Mike Farnworth said “everyone should feel secure in their homes, neighbourhoods and places where they work or live.”

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The provincial government is restoring stable funding to community-based sexual assault response centres in communities across the province.

This funding is part of an action plan to end gender-based violence currently being developed by the public safety ministry and the parliamentary secretary for gender equity.

“We know that during the pandemic, violence against women and girls has intensified,” Farnworth said.

“It is critical that women have the services and supports they need if they are survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence.”

BC Liberal MLA Todd Stone said violent crime has not just gone up during the pandemic but started going up five years ago.

The BC Liberals are suggesting the province hire more Crown prosecutors and increase funding to treat mental health.

“When we compare British Columbia to the other major provinces in the country in terms of the overall increase in the rate of violent crime,” Stone said, “this is a province that is not spending enough on the mental health supports vulnerable people require.”

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