London Police Service (LPS) needs to do better.
Last week's Globe and Mail investigation revealed the city has one of the highest unfounded sexual assault rates in the country. At 30 per cent, 690 of 2278 allegations were deemed baseless between 2010-14.
When considering that sexual assault is already one of the most underreported and under prosecuted crimes in Canada, sexual violence victims face an uphill battle right from the start.
Thankfully, the Globe's investigation will spark conversations. We hope it challenges Canadians' misconceptions about sexual violence and consent. Their case studies support the notion that victims who live through traumatic events may not act as expected in the aftermath.
Whether or not a victim is visibly upset when reporting a crime shouldn't affect their credibility. In the case of Ava's story, she illustrates the importance of not only "no means no" consent, but that "yes means yes" consent is equally important — it must be mutual and continuous.
We also realize these conversations wouldn't be possible right now without the Globe's commitment to a truly worthwhile project. As it stands, the investigation is a much-needed example of the necessity of investigative journalism.
We're grateful that so many resources were devoted to this project which took 20 months and 250 freedom of information requests. These types of stories catalyze widespread reforms.
However, Ottawa's story gives us hope. In 2012, 38 per cent of sexual assault cases in Ottawa were labelled as unfounded. Two years later and amid much criticism, that number fell to 12 per cent.
The key to Ottawa's transformation was better training for officers and more case oversight to catch mistakes. Similar initiatives are very possible in London, and we hope that the city's 30 per cent rate plummets soon.
"Unfounded" is the type of journalism that restores our faith in the media, and we sincerely hope that LPS will reform going forward.