Regina police point to #MeToo movement as one factor behind rise in sexual assault reports last year
39% more sexual assaults reported in 2018 than 2017, Board of Police Commissioners hears
Sexual assault offence reports have been on a steady rise in the City of Regina since 2015 — a trend police expect to continue due to a few factors, the city's Board of Police Commissioners heard Wednesday.
"Movements like #MeToo have really made it culturally and socially unacceptable for these sorts of things to happen, and so people feel comfortable and are motivated to come in and report them," said Regina police Chief Evan Bray, following the board's public meeting on Wednesday morning.
The board heard updates on a range of crime statistics, which included the fact there were 38.6 per cent more sexual assaults reported in 2018 (201 assaults reported) than 2017 (145 sexual assaults reported).
The increase is also partly driven by how sexual offences are classified, while there have also been changes to how police are trained to deal with these offences, Bray said.
"We expect that too could cause an increase in the number of reports, given the fact that people have an increase in trust, or feel as though their file is going to be investigated using a trauma-informed approach," said Bray.
Bray said he hoped to announce some "significant resource changes" in how police deal with sexual offences in another couple of months.
Property crimes, thefts still high
Property crimes continue to be a major challenge, driven in large part by theft, said Bray. Almost 30 per cent of all crime in Regina in 2018 was theft-related, he said — a category which includes theft, shoplifting, and theft from motor vehicles, but does not include theft of motor vehicles themselves.
There were 6,827 such theft reports in 2018 — up from 5,817 in 2017.
Police have a strategy to deal with stolen vehicles, which includes how its front-line officers deal with the problem, but Bray noted it is also working on an awareness campaign giving people tips on how to keep their vehicles and property safe.
The police service reported 1,620 motor vehicle thefts in 2018 — up from 1,045 the year before.
I do know that crime, certainly across Western Canada, has been something that has been really predominantly on the rise as a result of drug-related addictions and challenges that come with that.- Police Chief Evan Bray
Bray noted that it's frustrating to see some types of crime remain stubbornly high, but it's not a problem unique to Regina.
"I do know that crime, certainly across Western Canada, has been something that has been really predominantly on the rise as a result of drug-related addictions and challenges that come with that."
Gangs and firearms can also drive up crime and crime severity, something that police services across Saskatchewan are trying to address, he said.
"There's work going on right now to try and come up with a bit of a strategy to deal with gang prevention to gang exit, and, of course, enforcement as well."