Montreal police see nearly 23% spike in sexual assault cases in 1-year period

The city of Montreal’s overall crime rate for 2017 is up 2.9 per cent from the previous year, with the highest spike reported in the category of sexual assault: it jumped a whopping 22.9 per cent.

Based on Montreal police stats, city’s 2017 overall crime rate up almost 3% from previous year

According to data compiled by Montreal police, the number of reported sexual assaults, arson and fatal car crashes went up last year compared to 2016. (Radio-Canada)

The city of Montreal's overall crime rate for 2017 is up 2.9 per cent from the previous year, with the highest spike reported in the category of sexual assault: it went up a whopping 22.9 per cent.

The numbers can be found in the 2017 annual report of the Montreal police service (SPVM).

When looking at overall reported crimes, Montreal police recorded 103,631 cases last year, up from 100,726 in 2016 (an increase of 2.9 per cent).

For crimes involving victims, those in the sexual assault category rose significantly.

In 2016, police investigated 1,487 cases. Last year, they opened about 350 cases more — a total of 1,828.

Hotline response

The jump coincides with the SPVM's move last fall to open a temporary sexual assault hotline. In the first five days, it received 253 calls.

The hotline was set up in the wake of the #metoo movement, as assault and harassment allegations were circulating about some high-profile Quebec personalities in the entertainment industry.

Six more officers were added to the sexual assault unit last year to help take on some of the investigations.

"If you're a victim and you complain, you expect your complaint to be treated," said Insp. André Durocher.

"An investigation sometimes is long, so we had to make sure that we had resources to [respond to] the demand in what we'd call a relatively reasonable time of response."

The number of complaints has plateaued, and the hotline was closed in November once the phone stopped ringing.

However, Durocher said, that's to be expected and sometimes it just takes another widely publicized incident to prompt more victims to come forward. 

"Sometimes all it takes is this little spark to get some people who, maybe it's been resting in their head for awhile, to say, 'That's the signal to go.'"

Other serious crimes, such as homicides, were up slightly — there were 24 homicide cases in 2017, while in 2016 police oversaw 23 investigations.

The number of arson cases took a jump: criminal fires in the city were up almost 12.9 per cent.

Thefts of motorized vehicles went up 9.2 per cent.

More fatal road accidents

The story on Montreal's roads also contains some bad news.

First, the number of cyclists killed doubled, from two deaths in 2016 to four in 2017.

For collisions involving only motorized vehicles, there were more fatalities last year — 26 of them — versus 2016 when there were 23. That represents a double-digit increase of 13 per cent.

However, there were fewer accidents with injuries. Those that caused serious injuries were down by 4.3 per cent, and those where victims suffered minor injuries also dipped by 2.3 per cent.

The number of pedestrians killed did not change, remaining at 15.