Transit Police launch campaign to prevent sexual assault

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Metro Vancouver Transit Police are asking riders to report sexual assault and harassment on transit in next phase of anti-sex offence ad campaign.
Photograph By METRO VANCOUVER TRANSIT POLICE

Metro Vancouver Transit Police are bringing back an ad campaign this month hoping to reduce the number of sexual assaults on public transit.

The more than 650 ads on buses, trains, and at SkyTrains stations and buses stops, are intended to create an unwelcome environment for people to sexually harass and assault others. The campaign also encourages riders to report any incidents they witness.

“All passengers using our transit system have the right to travel without fear of being assaulted or harassed,” Transit Police Chief Const. Doug LePard said in a press release.

“It is our commitment at Metro Vancouver Transit Police to provide that safe ride, and to let passengers know that any sex offence reported to us by victims or witnesses will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”

Police are starting the campaign this month as they say a higher number of sex offences are reported in the spring and summer months.

According to Transit Police spokesperson Anne Drennan, the number of sexual assaults investigated in 2017 was down from 2016. But that could mean a decrease in number of offences reported, not the number of assaults.

“It is widely believed that less than 10 per cent of all sexual offences are reported to police, including on transit,” she told the NOW.

“One of the focuses of the campaign is to encourage both victims and witnesses to report sexual offences to us so we can begin support for the victim, and initiate an investigation leading to arrest and prosecution of the offender.”

Increasing the length and visibility of ads on trains, and on buses at the SkyTrain stations were some recommendations that came out of the last campaign in November 2016. That campaign aimed to tell transit riders that “unwanted touching is a crime.” It included 80 posters on SkyTrain cars for two months.

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