EDMONTON -- More victims of sexual assault can now report their experience to the Edmonton Police Service online using the online crime reporting tool.

Victims can use the online system if the event occurred more than seven days ago.

The online tool is secure, and will allow reporters to submit their details directly to the police Sexual Assault Section. Reporters can choose whether to submit the information to start a police investigation, or to submit it for information purposes only.

The new tool was introduced to encourage victims to report incidents that happened more than seven days ago, where there is no longer physical evidence.

After the online report is submitted, the reporter will receive a temporary police report number. All cases filed using the Online Reporting System will be reviewed within seven business days.

Once processed, the reporter will receive a permanent police report number that replaces the temporary one.

If the report is submitted to initiate a police investigation, the reporter will be contacted by an investigator within 10 business days.

If the information is submitting the report for information purposes only, they will not be contacted.

"Every year a large number of sexual assaults go unreported," said Staff Sgt. Terrie Affolder, with the EPS Sexual Assault Section. "If we can make it easier for just a few of those victims to share with us, we’ll consider this a success. Walking into a police station can be difficult, so giving victims the ability to choose when and how they report makes us hopeful we’ll hear from them."

"When a person experiences sexual assault, their power is taken from them. One of the most important things we can do to help survivors reclaim that power is give them options about what happens next," says Mary Jane James, Chief Executive Officer of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton. "We’re optimistic that this new online reporting option will increase the likelihood that a person will feel comfortable enough to come forward."

Similar tools have been launched by police services in Hamilton and Windsor.

If an assault has happened more recently than seven days, evidence may need to be collected, and police encourage victims to contact the police non-emergency number, 780-423-4567, or go to their nearest hospital.

An assault outside Edmonton city limits should be reported to the local police agency where it happened.