The Regina Police Service says it's seen a significant increase so far this year in reports of sexual crimes that don't involve sexual assault, according to statistics presented at Thursday's board of police commissioners meeting.
According to the mid-year report, there have been 44 instances of sexual crimes in the "other sex crimes" category — crimes which are distinguished in the report from sexual assault, and include offences such as sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, online child luring and voyeurism.
That compares to 26 such offences reported between the January to June period of 2019.
The 10-year average rate of crimes in that category by the mid-point of the year in Regina is 21.8 incidents — just under half of what has been recorded so far.
Regina's police chief said he thinks more people are now coming forward with allegations to the police because of an increased focus on addressing sexual violence and assault in society in recent years.
"The conversation that happens ... globally now around sexual assault, sexual violence, I think is at a point where people are feeling much more comfortable and, in many cases, empowered in a positive way to come forward with their allegation and trusting that it will be taken seriously," Chief Evan Bray said Thursday.
"We've got a lot of change to our current process, a lot of change to our training, so that definitely comes into play here as well," he said.
"We've been working with our media section ... to try and get the message out that we are more than happy to help people come in, talk to us about their experience was, and then do a proper investigation."
That cannot happen if allegations are made anonymously, but Bray said he understands why some people would choose not to report sexual offences to police. Bray said with the proper supports in place, the police investigation could provide a role in a person's healing.
The were 73 sexual assaults recorded by the end of June, a 28 per cent decrease from 2019, when 102 assaults were reported during the same time frame. The 10-year average is 74 incidents of sexual assault by this point in the year.
Mayor Michael Fougere said sex-based crime is always a concern and has been a focus for the Regina Police Service.
He pointed to an overall decrease in reported crime, but said the COVID-19 pandemic likely had some impact on the data.
The city's overall rate of reported crime decreased by 26 per cent for the year to date compared to last year, including a 7.8 per cent decrease in crime against people and a 30.7 per cent drop in property crime.
"If you look at the overall," Fougere said, the report indicates "some promising areas where crime is going down, and that's a very positive message."