Researcher's data sheds light on sex assault cases in Edmonton
University researcher says access to Edmonton police sex assault records signals a “culture shift” at EPS.
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Edmonton police’s openness to share sex assault records marks a culture shift within the department, according to a researcher with access to the data.
MacEwan University psychologist Sandy Jung presented the findings of her report – based on unprecedented access to five years worth of sex assault cases – to the Edmonton Police Commission Thursday, giving the public an in-depth look at sex assaults in the city.
By extracting data from 2,569 reported sexual assaults committed against non-child victims (ages 16 and up), Jung was able to create profiles of perpetrators and victims, track how many incidents lead to charges, determine risk factors and create models that could help predict a perpetrator’s chances of re-offending.
Jung hopes continued access to Edmonton Police Service files by the academic community will one day lead to practical policing strategies that allocate resources to where they’re most effective and help protect the public.
“Getting access to this kind of data is rare. It’s valuable to see what’s going on,” Jung said. “Usually there is a fair amount of resistance [from police agencies]. They don’t want someone from the outside coming in and telling them how to do their job.”
Jung said it was EPS that approached her about the possibility of collaborating, not vice versa.
“It shows they want to know what they can do better,” she said. “You’ve got people from the top down caring about this, that’s where you see the culture change.”
While the first part of her research focuses on providing an accurate snapshot of sexual assault cases since 2010, the second portion takes proven sexual violence risk measures in correctional settings and applies them to a sample of non-convicted perpetrators in the police files.
Jung wants to see if such models can one day be used to predict a perpetrators’ likelihood to re-offend, allowing police to focus more resources on high-risk suspects.
That would be a first for North America, she told the commission.
Sexual assaults in Edmonton
2569 - Sexual assaults against victims 16 years and over reported to Edmonton police from 2010-2014.
Charges are laid in 83.4% of called where the perpetrator is identified
33.7% of sexual offences resulted in visible injury or hospitalization
27% of sexual offences involved a victim who was unconscious
Average age: 28.2
Average age: 35
70% single (relationship status)
65% had prior criminal involvement
49% with substance problem
Relationship between perpetrator and victim:
42% Known to each other
15% Intimate partner
-Source: Sandy Jung, MacEwan University