Stranger sexual assault reports rising in Vancouver: Police

Vancouver Police is relaunching a campaign against unwanted sexual touching after a recent increase in the number of reported sexual assaults in the city.

There were 16 reported stranger sexual assault cases throughout the city in July, up from 10 during the same time period last year — a 60 per cent increase — and from seven cases in July 2019, a nearly 129 per cent jump.

Many of the cases occurred in the Granville Entertainment District, which has seen a 167 per cent increase in sexual assaults compared to the three-year average for July.

The assaults range from groping and unwanted touching to forced sexual intercourse, said Const. Tania Visintin at a news conference Wednesday. “This is obviously very concerning to us.”

Police analysts flagged the trend, but do not have any indicators on suspect description, said Visintin.

“We know that offences against a person, specifically sexual offences, are vastly underreported,” she added.

“Our officers are very alive to the sensitivity around these types of files and will do anything they can to uphold the integrity of the survivor.”

Last week, police issued a public warning following a rash of groping cases in the Champlain Heights neighbourhood since April.

In response to the rise in sexual assault cases, Vancouver Police is re-launching its “Hands off!” campaign first launched in 2019 in partnership with Barwatch and Metro Vancouver Transit Police.

The social media campaign, which raises awareness about unwanted sexual touching, launches Wednesday with the goal of informing potential offenders that unwanted touching such as groping is a crime, said Visintin.

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