Report an assault to police

Report an assault to police

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What is Sexual Assault/Rape?

Police / legal definitions

Rape - intentionally penetrating the vagina, anus or mouth with their penis without consent.

Sexual Assault - intentionally touching another person sexually without their consent

Serious Sexual Assault - intentionally penetrate the vagina or anus of another person with a part of the body or anything else

Consent - A person consents if they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice

Any sexual contact without your consent is sexual assault and is a crime.

If someone has touched you in a way that made you uncomfortable, this may be considered sexual assault.

If the attacker has put his penis into your vagina, mouth or anus without your consent this is rape.

If you were asleep or too drunk to give your consent, this is their fault not yours.

What does consent mean?

It’s all about permission (or agreement). This is something that must be clearly established between two people before any kind of sexual act or behaviour. You can change your mind at any time.

Contacting police

This doesn’t have to mean committing to an investigation. Their priority is safeguarding you, whether securing your home or connecting you to emotional support.

If you choose to support a police investigation, you’ll be supported every step along the way. You will be able to pull out at any stage. Find out more about the police process.

It just happened

Your safety is the number one priority. Follow our guidelines to make sure you get the right support.

It happened in the week

Forensic evidence can still be obtained. The sooner you contact police, the quicker they can investigate your attacker. Find out more about the police process and how they can support you.

It happened in the past

It doesn't matter how long ago you were assaulted, police still want to hear what happened. They will ensure you receive the support you need and investigate the person that assaulted you. Find out more about the police process and how they can support you.

Not sure about reporting

We understand that not everyone is ready to go to police. Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) provide medical care and support and can also gather forensic evidence. You can visit anonymously and in confidence without having to report a crime. There are also a number of charities that can help.

Common concerns about reporting to police

You’ve been through a traumatic experience and contacting police can be daunting. You will have a dedicated officer to help you through the process at each stage.

Will I have to go to court?

You can provide a video statement that will form your main evidence so you won’t have to relive the attack start to finish in court. You may be asked some questions in court. Sometimes screens or video links may be used to protect your identity. You'll still have the option to withdraw at any stage.

I don't think I'll be believed

Police have a duty to safeguard the welfare of everyone who reports this type of assault and to treat every investigation seriously. They may ask tough questions but they're not trying to trip you up. They need to ensure they have the best chance of catching the person who assaulted you and getting you justice.

I don't know if it was rape/sexual assault or not

It doesn't matter if you didn't specifically say "No" or fight back. Anything less than a "Yes" is a "No." If you were asleep or too drunk to give your consent, this is their fault not yours. It doesn't matter if it was someone you know. It doesn’t matter what's happened before (e.g. if you consented to other activity or you've been flirty). Your attacker doesn't need to have hit you for it to be an assault.

I'm not sure/can't remember what's happened

Police will help you piece together what you know. They will investigate to fill in the blanks. There may be other evidence such as physical, forensic, CCTV or witnesses. If you think you may have been sexually assaulted you don't have to deal with it on your own, talk to someone.

I was drunk/on drugs/asleep

Anything less than a "Yes" is a "No." If you were asleep or too intoxicated to give your consent, this is their fault not yours. It's their responsibility to make sure you are able and willing to consent to any sexual activity. Police will ask about drink/drugs and it's important to be honest. They will treat your assault seriously regardless.

Will I have to have a medical exam?

Nothing will happen without your go ahead. If appropriate, and you agree, a doctor will conduct a private examination to recover forensic evidence that may help catch your attacker.

Can I choose whether I speak to a male or female?

If you have a preference for speaking to a male/ female officer or doctor, police will meet your needs.

I don't want anyone to know

You shouldn't try to deal with this on your own and it's important to talk to someone. There lots of choices as to who to talk to, whether it be family/ friends, someone in your community or professionals from police or a charity. Police won't tell anyone if you don't want them to. They can protect your identity at court and keep your name away from media attention.

I'm afraid of my attacker

Your safeguarding is a priority to police and they can provide a range of safety measures such as panic alarms, extra patrols near your home or alternative accommodation. Once your attacker is caught, police can apply to keep them in custody or use conditions to keep them away if released on bail.

I know my attacker/the attacker is my partner

Police treat sexual assault just as seriously whether or not you know your attacker. It doesn’t matter what's happened before (e.g. if you consented to other activity), it's still an offence if you haven't consented.

The assault happened in the past

It doesn't matter how long ago you were assaulted you still need support and police will take steps to find your attacker.

I'm a male survivor of sexual assault

Misconceptions make things even more difficult for survivors and can increase feelings of isolation and shame, making it hard to talk to anyone. It’s important that you do not try to deal with this on your own and that you feel able to talk to someone. Read more and find out about specialist charities in our ‘debunking myths’ section.

I'm a sex worker

It’s just as important that you don’t feel you have to deal with this on your own. You deserve the same level of support from Police and other organisations and will not be treated any differently. Specialised support is available from National Ugly Mugs (NUM), find out more.