For Immediate release:

Hamilton Police Service Supports Sexual Assault Prevention Month

Hamilton Police Service is lighting up purple to raise awareness for the @DrawTheLineON campaign about the devastating impact of sexual violence. May has been designated Sexual Assault Prevention Month in Ontario.

The service is seeing promising results with its new online sexual assault reporting tool. Launched last year, the system provides another way for survivors to connect with police. For many individuals, online reporting can lessen barriers for those contemplating that initial contact.

In 2017, 18 reports were filed using the new online tool. To date, there have been 19 reports filed since April 2018. Hamilton Police Service received 470 reported incidents of sexual assault in 2017. In approximately 81 per cent of these cases, the victim knew the offender. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of reported incidents of sexual assaults has decreased by 13 per cent.

Sexual violence is a serious crime that affects our entire community. Raising public awareness about the prevalence and impact of sexual violence has been shown to help support survivors.

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual touching. It includes kissing, hugging, molestation, rape and attempted rape. It can happen to someone once, more than once or even over many years.

When reporting incidents of sexual violence to Hamilton Police Service, victims provide input and direction as to how their investigation will proceed. Options for reporting include the following:

Uniform Patrol Response

Victims contact 911 or 905-546-4925 to have officers attend to complete an initial report. Specially trained Sexual Assault Detectives will then follow-up with each victim.

Telephone Reporting (Historical Investigations Over a Year)

Victims 16 years-old or older can file a report over the telephone at 905-540-5553. A specially-trained detective will follow up with the victim.

Anonymous Reporting

Victims can anonymously report an offender’s behavior to police through the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre (SACHA), Centre de Sante Communautaire Hamilton/Niagara, and the Elizabeth Fry Society. No follow-up investigation will be initiated unless directed by the victim.

Sexual assaults do not need to be reported immediately to police but there are things victims can do to preserve evidence before filing a report:

Go to the hospital and have a sexual assault evidence kit completed. SACHA will offer transportation and accompaniment to the hospital.

Hospitals will store the kit for up to six months and will only release it to police with victim’s consent. The sooner the kit is completed, the more DNA collected.

Place worn clothing in a paper bag and put it aside. Do not wash the clothing.

Take photographs of any injuries sustained.

Keep any messages, texts or photos from the assailant. Do not delete conversations.

Contact police as soon as possible so any potential surveillance video is retained.

The Hamilton Police Services Victim Services Branch is available to respond in person to a victim of sexual assault at the scene and/or provide accompaniment at the hospital or police station. Victim Services is available to all victims of crime 24/7 by telephone as well and can provide emotional support, information, practical assistance and resources /referrals to programs within the City of Hamilton.

There is no guaranteed way to prevent a sexual assault. Sharing the details around sexual violence is intended to provide the community information, and people are encouraged to trust their instincts. For confidential support, please call the Sexual Assault Centre's 24-hour support line at 905-525-4162, connect to www.sacha.ca, the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre at www.hhsc.ca/sadv or the Centre de sante communautaire at cschn.ca

 

Media Inquiries:

Jackie Penman

Hamilton Police Service

905-546-4764