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2019 Campus Police reports show increase in reported sexual assault at UTSG

UTSC attributes decrease in thefts to community policing programs
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The report found 15 sexual assaults per 100,000 people at UTSG.STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY
The report found 15 sexual assaults per 100,000 people at UTSG.STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

Each of the three University of Toronto campuses recently released its annual police services report for 2019. The report from UTSG showed a significant increase in reported sexual assault, and the report from UTSC showed a significant decrease in theft.

Sexual assault

UTSG showed a notable increase in reports of sexual assault. Ten sexual assaults were reported at UTSG in 2019, an increase from one reported in 2018. The police report notes that four of these assaults took place on walkways adjacent to U of T property. UTSG remains the campus with the highest rate of reported sexual assault relative to the population with 15 sexual assaults per 100,000 people.

After a similar spike in reported sexual assault in 2017, Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President of Human Resources and Equity at U of T at the time, told The Varsity that the increase may be more indicative of how many victims are willing to report to the police rather than a measure of how much sexual assault on campus has increased. However, U of T Media Relations did not respond to The Varsity‘s inquiry as to what might specifically account for the 2019 spike. 

UTSC offers Campus Police an optional course on Sexual Violence Education, and UTM has partnered with the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre, which serves all three campuses and helps Campus Police handle reports of sexual assault appropriately.

In an email to The Varsity, a U of T spokesperson wrote that “any student, staff or faculty member who has been affected by sexual violence or someone who might be supporting someone affected by sexual violence is welcome to call, email or drop by any of the centre’s three locations.”

Serious crimes like sexual assault are investigated not only by the Campus Police, but also by the Toronto Police Service or the Peel Police Service.

Theft

In comparison to 2018, UTSC reported a significant decrease in the number of thefts, which Campus Police accredits to the continued development of theft prevention programs and community policing projects.  

The UTSC report states that “in 2019, [the] continual emphasis on community policing practices evidenced a 57.5% reduction in thefts on campus.” The community policing philosophy aims to introduce campus police officers to the community by allowing them to collaborate and participate in various committees through attendance and organization of events. This includes the Lap Top Anti-Theft Program, which uses the police and community to implement proactive measures to prevent laptop theft. 

Programs and training

All three campuses aim to increase community policing, often through attending events in the community. There has been a concentrated effort to interact with the LGBTQ+ community, with members of the UTSG Campus Police showing solidarity with Pride and the UTSC and UTM Campus Police both partnering with the Positive Space Committee. 

Currently, all security staff receive equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-bias training. The UTSG Campus Police have an optional course on anti-racism and systemic racism while neither UTM nor UTSC Campus Police offer the same training. 

In light of recent calls to abolish, defund, or reform the police, a U of T spokesperson told The Varsity that all three campuses have partnered with the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office to update their training as part of a continuous review of the training programs offered. 

All three campuses offer Campus Police some form of training on mental health and de-escalation practices.