In an emergency always call 999

Police Process

The police process

Benfits of involving police

Police are there for you at any time. They can help safeguard your wellbeing and work to catch the person that assaulted you and protect others like you.

Contacting police doesn’t have to mean committing to police processes. Their first port of call is safeguarding you – whether securing your home or connecting you to emotional support.

If you choose to proceed with a police investigation, you will be supported every step along the way. Even then you can pull out at any stage.

Step by step

Nothing will happen without your go ahead, police will take things at your pace & you will be able to withdraw at any stage should you change your mind.

If the assault has just happened

  • Get yourself to a safe place, find someone to help you and call police.
  • We know it might be difficult, but if possible, to protect evidence it's important NOT TO wash, brush your teeth, smoke, eat or drink, change clothes, go to the toilet or clear up the area where the assault happened.
  • Don't worry if you've already done some of these things, forensic evidence may still be intact and can preserved from this point on.

Other evidence you can preserve before police get to you

We understand that at this difficult time it might be a lot to ask, but the more evidence that can be collected, the more it can help an investigation.

If you can;

  • Write down details you remember e.g. where you were, what the person looked like (including scars or tattoos).
  • Keep the clothing you were wearing to one side.
  • Protect any object the person came into contact with e.g. glasses, cigarette stubs, door handles.
  • Keep any texts, calls or voicemails from them.

Keeping evidence or handing it over to police doesn't mean you have to start an investigation but it will help you go ahead with one if you choose to at a later stage. Police will work with you and help you decide what you want to do next.

When police arrive

  • Police will ask you to tell them briefly what's happened and may suggest using an ‘Early Evidence Kit’ to collect initial forensic evidence at the earliest opportunity (urine and mouth swab). You will be able to provide this in privacy.
  • Police will be able to ensure you can access your choice of support (medical/ charities/ Sexual Assault Referral Centres) and contact a family member or friend for you if you so wish.

Going with police

  • You may be taken to a police station, Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) or hospital.
  • You will be able to take someone with you if you want to.
  • If you just needed police to get you to a place of safety, you won't have to talk to anyone in depth if you don't want to.
  • If you want to talk to police they can arrange for a translator or signer to help you if necessary.
  • A dedicated officer will help you through the police process from start to finish.
  • Police will want to get as much of the initial work completed as soon as possible to catch the person responsible. If you feel well enough you'll complete a video interview straight away, but if you don't feel up to it, this can be arranged for another time.

Telling your story

  • A specially trained officer will be available to take your full account if you’re prepared to do this. This will preferably take place as a videoed interview so that you won’t have to describe the assault from start to finish in court. It will be done sensitively and confidentially.
  • You’ll be able to stop or break at any point you want and take it at your own pace.
  • Getting lots of detail about what happened may help identify the person responsible and bring them to justice. This may involve personal questions relevant to the attack and you may be asked if you've drunk alcohol or taken drugs. This is not to try and catch you out but to make sure police understand what happened as clearly as you do. It will not affect how you are treated.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to talk through how the attack has affected you if you wish.

Medical examination

  • Nothing will happen without your go ahead. If you agree, a doctor will conduct a private examination to collect forensic evidence that may help catch the person that assaulted you.
  • It involves performing a "top to toe" physical examination. This may include a genital (private parts) examination. Exactly which areas of your body are examined will depend on what has happened to you.
  • The doctor will examine you for any injuries such as cuts and bruises. Careful notes of where they are, and what they look like will be made. Samples, using cotton wool swabs, from your skin and from areas involved in the assault, such as the vagina, anus or mouth will be taken. These swabs can then be used by the police to obtain DNA evidence. You may also be asked to give blood and urine samples.
  • The doctor will explain to you what they have found and you can ask any questions you have.
  • This may take 2-3 hours.
  • If you were wearing the clothes you had on at the time of the assault police may ask to take your clothing to send it for examination and keep as evidence. You will be provided with new clothes to wear if you've agreed to this.
  • You will be able to have a shower after the examination but please try not to beforehand if the assault has just happened.

Next steps police will make

  • As well as clothing, police may ask to take other items such as objects the person who assaulted you has touched as well as your mobile phone, bedsheets, cigarette stubs, condoms etc. Any valuables will be returned as soon as possible.
  • If you took part in early evidence procedures or a medical examination, the samples will be sent for testing (DNA and fingerprints) and kept for evidence. Police will keep you informed about any results.
  • Police may photograph any injuries you have.
  • Police may contact anyone who witnessed anything, before or after the event. You can ask them not to speak to anybody who did not see the attack.
  • They will collect evidence from, and take photographs of, the place where you were attacked.
  • They will make door-to-door enquiries looking for other witnesses.
  • They will take any evidence that might help, like CCTV, computers or mobile phones, which will be sent for examination and analysis.
  • If you don’t personally know the person who assaulted you, police will take steps to identify them by showing you photos of known offenders, creating artist impressions, or setting up an identity parade.
  • During an identity parade, it’s important to understand that you will never be seen.

Catching the person responsible

  • The person who assaulted you will normally be arrested. They will be told they’re a suspect in a crime and will be interviewed. Your dedicated officer will tell you about the arrest.
  • A suspect can apply to be released from custody on ‘bail’ before any court appearance. This may be granted if police don’t think there’s a risk of them re-offending or fleeing.
  • Suspect who are released from custody on bail must abide by any bail conditions applied on their release, such as banning them from going near your home/ place of work, or contacting you.
  • We understand that this can be scary so if you have any concerns or strong objections you should let police know so they can make sure they impose the right bail conditions and keep you safe.
  • If the suspect lives with you, police will make sure that you are safe.

Court

  • If the case goes to court you still have the option to pull out at any stage.
  • You’ll have a dedicated officer who will support you through this process from start to finish.
  • The video statement you provided will be your main evidence so you won’t have to relive the attack start to finish in court. However you may still be asked some questions in court.
  • Sometimes screens or video links may be used to protect your identity.