Crimes on cruise ships are finally being accurately reported pursuant to a new mandatory reporting law, as explained in a blockbuster article, published in an Arizona newspaper, titled Travelers Can Now Get 1st Comprehensive Reports of Cruise Ship Crime.
Previously, cruise line crime statistics were disclosed on a website maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The database was roundly criticized as substantially under-reporting the crime problem on cruise ships. CNN reported as of 2013, of 959 crimes on cruise ships reported to the FBI since 2011, only 31 were disclosed on a web site maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Cruise lines are now required to report all crimes to the Department of Transportation. The number of reported sexual assaults on cruise ships jumped 550% in the first six months of 2016, going to 39 from six in 2015. Overall, reported crimes on ships jumped 408% to 61 from 12.
The FBI also indicated that it will respond to sexual assaults on cruise ships more aggressively, whereas in the past the FBI would routinely not respond to reports of shipboard rapes and the Department of Justice working with the FBI would often systematically decline to prosecute such crimes.
The new disclosure law is the result of efforts by the Cruise Victims Organization (ICV) and its chairman Ken Carver who organized hearings before Senator Jay Rockefeller.
Adjusted on a per capita basis, sexual assault on cruise ships occurs with a similar regularity as you might find on land, according to an article titled How Safe is Your Cruise? Crime on Cruise Ships Compared to U.S. Cities.
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October 21, 2016 Update: Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein cautions that although the the International Cruise Victims Association and others (including me) have reportred on the new crime reporting law "what has not been said is that crime statistics are based on incidents classified and subsequently reported by a cruise line. The cruise line determines whether an incident constitutes "sexual assault" (many cases of molestation of minors are classified as "sexual contact: groping" or as "inappropriate touch," neither of which is a crime under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 – CVSSA) so while the new disclosure of data is welcomed, it only gives insight into the scale of the most serious incidents, and it only applies to ships operating from US ports (and may not include incidents involving non-US citizens on these ships, and incidents against US citizens on ships operating out of non-US ports). Before jumping on the bandwagon of accolades for the new disclosures, we must look closely to see what is not being reported so we don’t assume the problem is less serious than it is. My comments are based on review of incident reports submitted by cruise lines and the tendency for these reports to misrepresent as "sexual contact" incidents that the victim clearly sees as sexual assault (but, again, sexual contact is not reportable under the CVSSA)."
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