The number of reported sexual assaults is on the rise in Prince Edward Island, but some experts say that this increase may not mean that there have been more sexual assaults, but rather more people reporting them.
Eileen Conboy, chair of the board of the PEI Rape and Sexual Assault Center, said that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“I thought an increase in reporting made a lot of sense, because we’re continually raising awareness about sexual violence. Making it part of our curriculum, making it part of our college courses.”
According to data recently released by Statistics Canada, 147 cases of sexual assault were reported to police in Prince Edward Island last year, a 21% increase from 2020.
And it’s not just on the island. The number of reported sexual assaults across the country increased by 18%.
Conboy said that doesn’t necessarily mean more people were assaulted — it could mean people are less reluctant to tell police what happened to them.
“We are seeing an increase in the recognition of sexual violence in our communities,” she said.
We know that not all victims of sexual assault report the crimes to the police.— Jayelee Grady
Sexual violence is still vastly under-reported, experts say, and there are likely many more cases that went unreported to police in the past year.
“We know that not all victims of sexual assault report the crime to the police,” said Jayelee Grady, victim services manager for the PEI Department of Justice and Public Safety. Edward.
“So in some ways it’s encouraging to see more numbers coming into policing. Hopefully that means people feel a bit more comfortable accessing resources and support.”
Report to the police
RCMP Sergeant. Chris Gunn also hopes that will be the case.
“I like to say that people are more open to reporting crimes. They feel more open. The RCMP also tries to promote the fact that we are available to receive complaints from anyone. It doesn’t matter their age.”
According to Statistics Canada, the percentage of sexual assault complaints in Prince Edward Island deemed “unfounded” – a classification which means that the police have determined that no crime took place – is around 20%, which is also the highest in the country.
The RCMP and Charlottetown Police currently have an ongoing review process to determine if closed cases have been handled properly.