Kitimat saw an unprecedented uptick in the number of sexual assaults reported to the RCMP in the month of April this year.
Based on the RCMP report submitted to district council on Aug. 2, there were seven reports of sexual assault in April alone, whereas year to date total, from Jan. to April, stood at 12 cases.
RCMP detachment commander Graham Morgan did say the number was “unusual” and “much higher” for Kitimat, considering the monthly aggregate is two to three reports.
While explaining the uptick in the numbers, Morgan said, two of the complaints were historic cases, meaning the incident reported took place more than 10 years ago. One case was a complaint about an incident that took place several months ago.
Out of the seven case files, criminal charges have been approved for only one.
“Three [of the seven cases] are under investigation and the other three, we don’t have enough evidence to pursue,” Morgan said.
The case count for the next month, May, went down to three and in July there were two cases.
In 2021, there were 30 sexual assault case files and in 2020 there were 23.
The District of Kitimat saw a 14 per cent jump in its violent crime severity index in 2021 from 157.8 to 180.71 according to the latest Statistics Canada (StatCan) data released July 25.
With the increase, Kitimat jumped three spots from 34th to 31st of the 181 police jurisdictions in B.C. for which data is available.
“We have seen an uptick in violent crimes,” said Morgan, who added the RCMP is taking steps to address this.
Kitimat RCMP said they, along with various community partners, also participate in an interagency case assessment team for high-risk domestic violence cases.
In addition, a Situation Table was also launched in Kitimat to help individuals or families in the community at the highest risk connect with appropriate services in a timely manner.
The RCMP are also undertaking educational initiatives to address this such as holding discussions in schools as to what qualifies as consent and assault. School kids have been responsive to the presentations and stay around to talk to officers on the topic, he said.
Morgan also said that while community members feel comfortable to come forward and report incidences to the local detachment, he hopes they will continue to do so in the future too.