Sexual offences on Peninsula up 20 per cent

Sex offences on the peninsula increased by more than 20 per cent during 2011, yet police prevention strategies remain unchanged.

By Evan McIntyre

Sex offences on the peninsula increased by more than 20 per cent during 2011, yet police prevention strategies remain unchanged.

“We can’t say if the numbers are indicative of more sexual assaults, increased reporting in sexual assaults, or a combination thereof,” says Theresa Rath, Public Relations Manager for the Halifax Regional Police.

“One in every four women, before they turn 30, will be assaulted,” said Ellen Taylor, Campaigns Coordinator at the Dalhousie Women’s Centre, “and we know that most of those assaults tend to happen in University.”

 

Ellen Taylor works as the Campaigns Coordinator at the Dalhousie Women’s Centre. (Evan McIntyre Photo)

The police’s central division encompasses the entire peninsula, including more than 25,000 post secondary students.

The police website has pages devoted to informing people on issues such as bullying, personal security, and fraud prevention, but does not have any online information regarding the prevention of sexual offences.

The Dalhousie Gazette ran a cover story on sexual assault in the city on Friday, March 2. The article’s subject was a young woman who had been assaulted in a bar and did not report it to the police. According to the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, 88 per cent of women in Canada who are sexually assaulted do not report it.

“If they want to go to the police we can assign them an advocate,” said Taylor, “we always want to do what they want to do, so it’s always up to them and we’re there as a support service.”

James McBean, a concert promoter on The Peninsula often finds himself working in dance clubs such as The New Palace and The Dome. “I personally haven’t seen or dealt with those issues, but I also haven’t seen bar staff act on anything that would arouse suspicion. It would be kind of hard to act on,” he said.

“We do meet with bars about the overall safety and security, but not about one specific type of crime,” said Rath, “Training for bar staff is currently handled by the individual bars but this will change with the new Security & Investigative Services Act,” she said.

The new act will introduce mandatory training, the scope of which has yet to be determined.

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