Unfounded Sexual Assaults in Canada, 2017

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Release date: July 23, 2018
Unfounded Sexual Assaults in Canada, 2017
Description: Unfounded Sexual Assaults in Canada, 2017

Canada's self-reported victimization survey shows that about 1 in 20 sexual assaults are reported to police

The proportion of sexual assaults classified as unfounded decreased, from:

  • 19% unfounded in 2016
  • 14% unfounded in 2017

The proportion of physical assaults classified as unfounded also declined, but to a lesser extent–from 11% to 9%

In 2017, there were significant public discussions around sexual violence in news reports and on social media, which may have had an impact on the willingness of victims to report sexual assaults to police.

There were large increases in reported sexual assaults (including founded and unfounded) after #metoo went viral in October 2017

Number of reports to police in 2016 and 2017
  Number of reports to police
2016 2017
Jan 1,990 1,858
Feb 1,850 1,776
Mar 1,996 2,103
Apr 2,068 2,124
May 2,179 2,402
Jun 2,259 2,398
Jul 2,175 2,219
Aug 2,159 2,166
Sep 2,081 2,124
Oct 2,024 2,691
Nov 2,094 2,507
Dec 1,673 2,118

Across the country, in 2017 the proportion of unfounded sexual assaults and physical assaults was lowest in Quebec

Percent classified as unfounded
  Sexual assaults Physical assaults
Canada 13.6 9.3
NFL 11.9 16.7
PEI 24.2 23.7
NS 16.7 19.2
NB 20.5 17.3
QC 9.7 3.4
ON 14.4 7.8
MB 13.6 11.0
SK 12.5 10.1
AB 13.7 12.4
BC 15.1 9.6
YK 17.9 17.1
NWT 16.7 17.3
NVT 22.8 16.9

In 2017, 12% of violent crimes overall were classified as unfounded, a higher proportion than property offences (6%) and other Criminal Code offences (7%)

For a criminal incident to be considered unfounded, it must be "determined through police investigation that the offence reported did not occur, nor was it attempted"

In 2017, several police agencies across Canada announced that they would review their unfounded sexual assault cases to determine if they required further investigation

Note: Includes levels 1, 2, and 3 sexual assault and levels 1, 2, and 3 physical assault. Data for unfounded incidents are available for 2017 even though inconsistencies in reporting may still exist. New standards for classification are being implemented throughout 2018.

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Uniform Crime Reporting Survey

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