Kingston police and Sexual Assault Centre Kingston have teamed up with an mobile tool that allows sexual assault survivors to report their experiences online, without necessarily filing a police report.
The two local organizations have launched a pilot program with Vesta Community, an online tool that offers what it calls “alternative reporting” of sexual assaults.
“We’re trying to be a place for individuals that are undecided about reporting. And if they’re undecided and they really want a place where they can maybe document their experience while they make that decision and whether they want to access resources, which are also available on our website, we make that available to them,” said Lucrezia Spagnolo, founder of Vesta Social Innovation Technologies
Either through the computer or through an app, the program allows survivors to report their sexual assaults anonymously through a third party system and then decide if they want to involve local police.
If they choose to stay anonymous, they can opt to share their experiences with organizations like Kingston police and Sexual Assault Centre Kingston, who will use the information to tailor their services.
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The pilot program began in March and is meant to run the rest of the year.
Spagnolo said Kingston is the first place to test drive the new reporting system.
“Kingston seemed ideal because there was a willingness from the partner. So there’s a willingness, obviously, from the chief of police to look at an alternative form of reporting, which was fundamental,” Spagnolo said.
In a statement sent out with the press release about the new program, Chief Antje McNeely said she’s looking forward to working with both Vesta and Sexual Assault Centre Kingston on the project.
Vesta said the involvement of the latter organization, SACK, is also meant to connect survivors with local services they may need after their sexual assault.
She said SACK was involved in the creation of the pilot program as well.
“One thing they were really helpful is making sure that we were aware of the challenges within the community or had challenges that survivors themselves face and what barriers they face,” she said.
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Spagnolo hopes to expand the program’s connections with other community groups as well, including other centres or other locations and services that survivors might want access to.
“We want to make sure that we’re partners with them so we can be a trusted hub, if you will, for survivors,” she said.
Eventually, Spagnola said she hopes to expand the pilot program past Kingston and make the tool accessible all over the country.
To access the reporting tool, visit SACK’s website.
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