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Reporting sexual violence to the police

If you are considering contacting the police to report an incident of sexual violence, then you may want to know how it could be dealt with by them. Sexual violence is taken very seriously by the police and you will be fully supported if you decide to report an incident. The police have specially trained officers, who are very experienced in obtaining evidence relating to child abuse, domestic abuse, sexual assaults and rape. Specialist officers will discuss what has happened and any concerns you have, they will support you in reporting any criminal offences.

Throughout your dealings with the police, it is important to remember that you are always in control and that officers will never force you to make a complaint or to take part in something you do not want to. Dependent upon the nature of the sexual violence, officers may ask you to consider a number of things which could help to ensure you are safe or which will assist with the criminal investigation. For instance, officers work closely with the local Sexual Assault Referral Centre and may ask you to consider a medical examination; this would only ever be considered if there is an opportunity to obtain forensic material which may assist the investigation. Officers will explain how you can give your evidence, most of the time this is via a digitally recorded interview, however, this does not stop you opting to give a written account if you prefer. Officers will explain processes and timescales in detail, they will refer you to partners who can support you through the investigation and they will update you with any key developments. If the offences have taken place abroad or elsewhere in the United Kingdom, then local officers can obtain your evidence and share it with the relevant authorities on your behalf.

Throughout an investigation the police will work in partnership with Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs). These are completely independent from the police and from any criminal investigation but they will offer support to victims and can liaise with officers on their behalf. ISVAs are specially trained and will offer support throughout the criminal justice process and beyond. Information on how you can access this support will be provided by officers and it is then your decision as to whether or not you wish to access the ISVA service.

Investigations into sexual offences can often be complex and time consuming. It is important that all possible lines of investigation are completed, so that the police can reach the right outcome for those involved. There are various options the police can consider and they will listen to your views when deciding how to progress a case. For instance, you may ask them to take no further action, you may wish to consider a low level resolution, they may formally warn or caution the suspect or they could refer your case to the Crown Prosecution Service and ask them to consider a prosecution of the perpetrator. The police should discuss these outcomes with you and can advise you as to the full options available to you and them.

If you want to review the police response to rape and sexual offences in more detail, then you can access further information by following the below links:

What if... rape

What if... sexual assault

West Midlands Police