Police-reported Data

Police-reported data is a specific data set that only includes sexual assault cases that have been reported to the police and that have been ruled as being “founded”. Which cases are classified as “founded” and which are classified as “unfounded” are largely up to individual officers’ discretion. There are significant gaps in our current understanding of “unfounded cases” as they are not tracked in any official capacity. Reliance on police-reported data to examine rates of sexual violence tends to create inconsistencies due to the high number of assaults that go unreported formally to the police.

Though police-reported data is limited and incomplete, it does provide important insights into the realities of sexual violence. Results from the UCR Survey have demonstrated some harrowing facts about sexual assault in Canada:

  • The median age of victims of sexual assault reported to the police was 18 years old with one in four victims being children 13 years old and younger; a rate that is four times higher than childhood rates of physical assault.
  • Only 41% of police-reported assaults resulted in formal charges being laid. When a case did result in charges, 98% of these cases had a male-identified person listed as the accused.
  • The vast majority (87%) of sexual assaults occurred between victims and known assailants, with only 13% being perpetrated by a stranger.

It is important to note that although there has been a decline in police-reported sexual assault and other violent crimes over recent decades, there has been no decline in self-reported incidents of sexual assault.

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