The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) has expanded its online crime reporting system to allow victims of historic sexual assault to file reports through edmontonpolice.ca/SAReport.
The secure web-based tool, which lets individuals choose whether they submit their report for investigation or information, captures details and forwards them directly to the EPS Sexual Assault Section.
Online reporting assists in instances where sexual assault has occurred more than seven days prior and there is no longer any physical evidence to collect. Previously, individuals could report historic assault through the EPS non-emergency telephone number. Though the non-emergency line remains the primary way to report, the addition of a web-based tool makes reporting more accessible for some. EPS hopes that providing another option encourages victims to come forward.
“Every year a large number of sexual assaults go unreported,” says Staff Sgt. Terrie Affolder, with the EPS Sexual Assault Section.
“If we can make it easier for just a few of those victims to share with us, we’ll consider this a success. Walking into a police station can be difficult, so giving victims the ability to choose when and how they report makes us hopeful we’ll hear from them.”
When using the tool, victims can choose to submit their report for information until they’re ready to proceed with an investigation. Only when they submit the report for investigation will they be contacted by an officer for follow-up.
“When a person experiences sexual assault, their power is taken from them. One of the most important things we can do to help survivors reclaim that power is give them options about what happens next,” says Mary Jane James, Chief Executive Officer of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.
“We’re optimistic that this new online reporting option will increase the likelihood that a person will feel comfortable enough to come forward.”
Similar web-based systems for reporting sexual assault have been developed by Windsor and Hamilton Police Services. EPS soft-launched its tool at the end of 2019 as an expansion of its existing online crime reporting program that began in 2013. The tool will be monitored over the next several months to measure its performance.
If assault has happened within seven days and evidence may need to be collected, victims are encouraged to call the EPS non-emergency number (780-423-4567) or see a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) nurse at the nearest hospital. Assault happening outside of Edmonton city limits should be reported to the local police agency in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred.
Edmonton sexual assault statistics
- 1,057 cases of sexual assault were reported in 2019.
- There have been 78 cases of sexual assault reported in 2020, year-to-date.
- 10 cases have been reported through the EPS online system since its soft-launched in November 2019.
- Statistics Canada estimates that only one in 20 cases of sexual assault are reported to police.
EPS online crime reporting
- Online reporting through edmontonpolice.ca began in April 2013 as an additional way for the public to report certain crimes to EPS.
- The crimes that can be reported online include:
- Break and enter (detached garage/ shed)
- Mischief to property or vehicle (including graffiti)
- Lost property
- Theft from vehicle
- General theft
- Sexual assault (historical) – added in 2019
- Retail theft (available for retailers only) – added in 2019
- During its first year (2013), a total of 2,608 reports were filed online.
- In 2019, a total of 20,079 reports were filed online; leading reports are retail theft and theft from vehicle.