A 43-per-cent surge in violent crimes is offset by a dip in property crimes in a new set of Surrey RCMP statistics, with the force insisting the first number should have an asterisk next to it.

The first three months of 2018 to 2019 saw major spikes in sexual offences, robberies and assaults compared to the same period last year, but a dip in kidnappings and a massive 50 per cent drop in attempted murders. Mounties say while some of those figures appear alarming, they’re inflated by a new Statistics Canada standard for reporting crime.

"Under the new (Uniform Crime Reporting survey) rules that were announced last year, 'founded' occurrences now include offences where there is no credible evidence to confirm the incident did not take place," the detachment said in a news release.

Cpl. Elenore Sturko told CTV News Vancouver it’s impossible to tell how much of the violent crime rate increase is attributable to files formerly considered “unsubstantiated.”

“It's not necessarily that it's a more accurate way [of assessing the crime rate] - we've had accurate statistics before - but I think it's more on the side of victims and complainants,” she said. “This is giving people that belief and the confidence they are going to be believed and their reports are taken seriously."

There were 120 sexual offences recorded in the first quarter of this year, a 48-per-cent hike over the 81 reported last year. Assaults jumped from 701 in the first quarter of 2018 to 978 during the same period this year, an increase of 40 per cent. A rise in “sextortion” cases also contributed to the figures, as Mounties consider the online extortion scams a crime against people, rather than a computer crime.

"We're actually not surprised with the statistics because day in, day out we are supporting victims and women who are victims of sexual assault," said Surrey Women’s Centre Director Shahnaz Rahman.

She attributes part of the sex assault figure to an overall rise in reporting stemming from the “me too” movement as well as the Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team (SMART), making it easier for victims to report incidents from strangers or intimate partners. Rahman is applauding the RCMP’s acceptance of the new reporting guidelines for sex assaults as part of crime statistics even if they haven’t been, or can never be, confirmed.

“I think this is a really progressive move. historically, we have seen the reporting is quite minimal,” she said. “Women generally don't come out and report. So progressively, it's a step in the right direction."

Property crimes aren’t part of Statistics Canada’s Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, and RCMP point out those numbers are improving in Surrey. They’re down nine per cent overall, keeping with a four-year downward trend, with residential break-and-enters down 19 per cent and thefts from vehicle dipping 23 per cent. Thefts of vehicles are down 19 per cent.

Sturko says comparing first quarter figures in 2020 to the 2019 numbers will be a better indicator of policing efforts since it’ll be an “apples to apples” comparison.

"Although statistically for us the numbers are not looking good and that is concerning for the public, overall this is actually a positive thing because it's bringing a more equal footing and better comparison of crime statistics across the country. But also, most importantly, it's bringing that balance in line with the belief of people who are victims of crime.”