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What happens after you report

The circumstances behind any report of rape or sexual assault are unique, so the way we investigate each one can vary. However, every investigation will start with the same steps to make sure we gather as much evidence as we can, as quickly as we can, while giving you all the support and advice you need. Find out below what happens after you report rape or sexual assault and the support available to you during the process.

Is it an emergency?

Is someone in immediate danger? Is a crime taking place or has one just happened? If so, call 999 now and ask for the police. 

 

The timeline:

Your initial account

After you report rape or sexual assault, we’ll arrange for someone to talk to you. Their first priority will be to check on your welfare and find out if you need any emergency medical assistance. The officer can be male or female, it is completely up to you.

If you’re comfortable talking about what happened, the officer will have four main questions:

  • Who did this?
  • What happened?
  • Where did it happen?
  • When did it happen?

We understand you may not be able to answer all of these. However, the more you can tell us, the better our chances of identifying the suspect.

If the incident has just happened, you will be offered to attend The Elms (sexual assault referral centre) (opens in new window) based at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon (opens in new window) for an examination, interview and support. This is so that all evidential opportunities can be captured. If you choose to do this, a specially trained officer will look after you and support you through the process.

If the assault happened some time ago or you don't want to go to The Elms, we will make an appointment to visit you at a time that suits you for a more detailed interview.

Once you've given an initial account of what happened, we will assign a dedicated officer to your case. These officers are specially trained to provide you with the help and support you need throughout the investigation and any subsequent judicial process.

Your dedicated officer

Your dedicated officer will be a single point of contact (SPOC) throughout the investigation.

They will explain to you what is happening at each step, answer any questions you might have and, with your consent, refer you through to support services.

One of the officer’s first tasks will be to take a detailed account from you. This can be in the form of a written statement or a visually recorded interview. They’ll talk through both of these options with you beforehand.

As a general rule, your officer will keep you informed of how the investigation is going at least every 28 days or sooner if there are any updates.

 

Your officer in the case

An officer in the case (OIC) is a plain clothes constable who has specialist training in the investigation of rape and sexual offences.

An OIC will be assigned to your case with the responsibility of investigating and securing all the evidence.

 

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

If a suspect is arrested, they will be interviewed and evidence collected. The OIC will pass all of the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and will detail the circumstances surrounding the offence.

A specially trained lawyer at the CPS will review all of the evidence and, together with a second 'reviewing lawyer', decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed to a trial. The CPS will then notify the OIC of the decision.

 

Going to court

If the CPS recommend a trial, the first stage will be ‘heard’ at a Magistrates’ Court. The suspect, who will be referred to in court as ‘the defendant’ will have to attend. You won’t need to attend at this stage. The police and CPS can apply to the court for ‘special measures’ that can assist you when you subsequently give your evidence in court. Special measures can include giving evidence behind a screen or via a video link from another room.

 

Giving evidence

If the defendant pleads ‘not guilty’ to the crime, you will need to go to the Crown Court and appear as a witness. In this case, you will be referred to as a ‘witness for the prosecution’.

 

Preparing for the day

It’s natural to feel a little nervous about going to court, but we will be on hand to support you all the way through the trial, you will not do anything alone.

We can arrange a visit before the day so that you can familiarise yourself with the layout of the courtroom or with the technology for a live link.

 

All victims of sexual offences will receive lifetime anonymity, meaning your name will not be published anywhere in the public domain.

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