This should give citizens pause:

Winnipeg Police/ Crimestat

A 39 per cent jump in the number of sexual assaults in the city year over year, according to preliminary police statistics.

These do not include “known suspect” sexual assaults, which were removed from the publicly-available CrimeStat in January 2008 on the belief that the average citizen doesn’t need to know about domestic-violence related cases. Some disputed this move, claiming that in order to have a truly informed picture of the state of crime in the city, one did need to be able to note those cases.

“If you want to paint an accurate picture of a neighbourhood, you have to go behind closed doors — the most dangerous place to be in terms of crime victimization is in the home,” University of Winnipeg criminologist Steven Kohm told me [and the readers of the Winnipeg Free Press on Oct. 30, 2008.]

“Kohm said reporting everything on CrimeStat could contribute to the re- victimization of people through a loss of privacy. But by not doing so, police run the risk of lessening the severity of sex assaults between intimates or family members. Ultimately, what gets reported by police through CrimeStat speaks to the heart of what the crime-tracking website’s real function is, he said.

“What I find most upsetting about this is the whole issue about ‘what is CrimeStat?’ What is it supposed to mean to the average citizen of Winnipeg… how is it supposed to make me safer?”

What’s interesting to note is that since Jan. 1, 2010, the number of “known offender” sexual assaults reported to police [the number is likely much, much higher] is 117. In the same period in 2009, there were 120 reported across all city neighbourhoods, so there’s parity, if not a skint decline.

[True to their word, however, the WPS did find a way to track “known offender” sex assaults separately from CrimeStat. Kudos].

But the current data shows it’s clear the risk of being randomly sexually assaulted is on the rise. Over the last few months, my newsroom colleagues and I have turned to each other more than once to say — ‘Bizarre. Another sex assault.’

For those wanting a trip to see how many stories have been done, check here.

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