It shouldn’t have to be said, but apparently, it does. Keep your hands to yourself. If you don’t, be aware that groping is sexual assault.
That’s the message of a new Vancouver Police Department (VPD) campaign the force launched today (November 26) in partnership with the nightlife industry group Barwatch.
“We are concerned about the number of groping incidents we are seeing in the city,” VPD Sergeant Steve Addison said quoted in a media release. “Almost everyone has been—or knows someone who has been—grabbed or fondled by a stranger in a public place. It appears that some people don’t understand that groping is a crime. Anyone who does this could be arrested and charged.”
The “Hands Off!” campaign will primarily consist of posters that bluntly explain, “Groping is sexual assault”. They’ll appear in bars and nightclubs and throughout the Metro Vancouver transit system.
“While unwanted sexual touching can happen anywhere, it’s most prevalent in crowded places like bars, clubs, buses, and rapid transit,” the VPD’s release reads.
It’s noted there that Barwatch has paid to create the campaign’s posters and TransLink is donating spaces where they can go up for display.
Since January 2018, the VPD has investigated 174 reports of unwanted touching, the release continues. And during that period, Transit Police has investigated another 75.
“Despite our constant efforts to reduce incidents of groping, these continue to be a serious issue on the transit system,” Transit Police Sergeant Clint Hampton quoted in the release. “Offenders need to realize that these are all sexual assaults, and anyone who commits an act of groping is a sexual offender”.