Reports of sexual assaults spiked across the country after the #MeToo movement went viral last October, according to Statistics Canada data released Monday.
Non-violent sexual assaults reported to police went up by 16 per cent in B.C., while reported aggravated sexual assault went up by 45 per cent.
The agency did not outright attribute the increase to #MeToo, but said the movement “may have had an impact on the willingness of victims to report sexual assault incidents to police.”
Nation-wide, Statistics Canada also said that the number of “unfounded” reports, meaning police determined no crime had taken place, had dropped from one-in-five to one-in-seven between 2016 and 2017.
Serious crime on the down-swing
The data also suggested serious crime has dropped noticeably in B.C. for the first time in three years.
The agency’s crime severity index, which measures changes in the severity of police-reported crime from year to year, declined by five percentage points from 2016 to 2017.
The index gives more weight to crimes like murder and sexual assault compared to minor crimes like mischief.
It had declined by just 0.62 points from 2015 to 2016, after rising by 3.2 points annually for the two years before that.
The index declined in only three other provinces: Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The severity of violent crime in B.C. grew by half a percentage point, while non-violent crime in the province dropped by 6.6 points.
Among youth, the severity of violent crime jumped up by nearly 11 points, while non-violent crime went up by more than 34 points.