Sexual assault is the fastest rising violent crime in Edmonton, says police chief Rod Knecht.

“We have six or seven serious sexual assaults in this city every weekend,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Sex assaults and homicides up sharply in Edmonton

Knecht ties the increase with the rise in GHB — the so-called date rape drug — in the city.

Police seize more of the drug, “gallons of it,” than is seen in other cities of Edmonton’s size, Knecht said, calling it “deeply disconcerting.”

But Knecht doesn't believe the climbing rate of reports is due to more victims coming forward. 

“We know that 10 to 15 per cent of sexual assaults are reported, so there are a huge number out there not being reported."

"I have conversations with young people and I’m struck with how cavalier they are,” Knecht said. “Sometimes they’ve been sexually assaulted and it’s, ‘No big deal’ or ‘It’s just the way it is.’ "It’s troubling."     

Knecht said young people need to learn what constitutes sexual assault.

“This is not part of a date ... or going to the bar at night,” he said. “This kind of behaviour is not tolerated in our society or community.”

Domestic violence is also on the rise in the city, he said.

"We’re probably the only major city in Canada where crime is on the increase," Knecht said. 

That's because the city's population has swelled by 60,000 in last two years, many of which are young men between 18 and 34 years old, he said.

More officers have been added to the department's sex assault section.

Number of reported sexual assaults in Edmonton

2009 601
2010 718
2011 778
2012 797
2013 776
2014 (to date) 707