Dear Mayor and Council,
Based on its published data, Vancouver Police Department received 578 reports of sexual assault (“sex offences”) in 2021. Addressing the enormous gap between the number of sexual assaults reported to police, and the actual number of sexual assaults committed (mostly against women and children), will require serious measures. We are prepared to offer our input if you and/or the VPD seek to encourage more victims to come forward and report the sexual crimes against them. While our comments below focus on the cases that have been reported to police, there is a direct link between the abysmal results of the existing reports, and the fact that most sexual assaults are not reported to police at all.
- The number of sexual assault reports made to the VPD has no real meaning when published in isolation from how the VPD and the criminal justice system as a whole respond to these reports.
- Based on our front-line work, most sexual assaults reported to the VPD will not result in charges against the man/men who committed the crime. This is in spite of the identity of the perpetrator being known to the victim in the majority of cases and therefore, to the police (unlike in many other crimes).
- Furthermore, many of the cases that saw charges initially approved, will end up in a stay of proceedings and the charges being dropped.
- Comparing the small number of men who face a trial to the much higher number of sexual assaults reported to police means that, as one of our Vancouver callers said recently, “rape is practically legal here.”
For you, as city council members, who we trust to take seriously the lack of women’s safety in Vancouver and the high number of women and children in Vancouver who are victims of sexual violence, we urge you to demand the following data from the VPD in order to effectively evaluate their work responding to sexual assault:
- How many of the sexual assault cases were “cleared by charges?”
- How many of the sexual assault cases that were initially “cleared by charges” actually ended up with the case proceeding to trial?
We believe that examining the VPD’s data in response to these two questions will prompt you to urge both police and crown prosecution for Vancouver to re-orient their work to result in a dramatic increase in the number of men who are being held accountable for acts of sexual violence against women and children.
On behalf of the collective of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter