University of Arizona campus, 2016

From the Social Sciences building looking north towards Old Main at the University of Arizona campus in Tucson on July 26, 2016. A.E. Araiza / Arizona Daily Star

A.E. Araiza / Arizona Daily Star

The University of Arizona Police Department released an annual campus safety report on Monday that showed the reported number of rapes and fondling increasing last year from 2015.

The 2017 Campus Safety, Security and Fire Safety Report compares 2016 criminal offenses on campus and other properties under the control of, or near, the university with the previous two years, 2014 and 2015. The Clery Act requires all American universities receiving federal funding to produce such reports.

Cases of sexual assault increased, with reports of rape rising from 18 in 2015 to 24 in 2016; the number of fondling cases rose from two in 2015 to six reported cases last year.

“I hope that people are reporting more often,” said Brian Seastone, UAPD police chief, in response to the rise in sexual-assault cases. Seastone said he wants victims to know they can get support and resources they need.

Oasis Sexual Assault and Trauma Services and the Women’s Resource Center are available for support of victims of sexual assault. The UA also holds sexual-assault educational events such as “Take Back the Night” once a year.

“We’ve changed the way we respond (to these cases),” Seastone said, stressing that victims now have more control over their cases.

“We don’t force them to do anything,” said Sgt. Cindy Spasoff, public information officer for UAPD. “We won’t force them to prosecute, go to the hospital or name the attacker. We want to make sure the victims are making choices comfortable for them.”

The Violence Against Women Act also requires an added layer of focus in the crime reports. Reported domestic-violence incidents rose from 19 to 21, and reported dating-violence incidents rose from four in 2015 to 10 last year. Cases of stalking fell from 13 to two reported incidents year over year.

The number of aggravated assaults fell from nine in 2015 to seven last year.

There were four reported hate crimes involving racial, ethnic and religious bias in 2016, up from one the previous year involving sexual orientation.

Seastone suspects the rise in hate crimes is a reflection of the racial tension across the country.

Burglary increased from 33 to 44 cases. Robbery cases fell from four to three. Vehicle thefts rose from 17 cases to 18.

There were no reported cases of weapons on campus in 2016, and only one in 2015, which led to an arrest.

Liquor-law arrests stayed consistent from 167 to 168. Disciplinary actions in response to liquor law violations rose sharply from 457 to 763.

Drug-law arrests fell from 125 to 119, and drug-law violations that resulted in disciplinary actions fell from 130 to 123.

The UA’s diversion program seeks to give students who have committed a misdemeanor a second chance.

“The goal is to educate,” said Kendal Washington White, UA assistant vice president and dean of students. “Some people want to punish and kick out (offending students), but we are an institute of higher education in and out of the classroom.”

UA’s Campus Health Service also works with students to reduce underage and high-risk drinking, White said.

This is the second year of the Good Samaritan policy, which encourages students to call for medical help for intoxicated peers without fear of criminal charges.

The UA LiveSafe app allows students and employees to report potential crimes via call or text. They can also send in photos, video and share information anonymously if they choose.

There were no reportable offenses for the UA Phoenix campus, and only one reported crime in 2016 at the UA South campus in Sierra Vista.

Contact Mikayla Mace at mmace@tucson.com or (520) 573-4158. On Twitter: @mikaylagram.