Rape Reporting – What happens next
When police receive a report of rape the first priority is the safety of the victim. The first person to attend will be a uniformed officer who will assess the situation while a Sexual Offence Liaison Officer (SOLO) travels to the scene. They are specially trained police officers who deal with victims of rape. SOLOs understand the impact rape has on victims and are trained to guide them through the investigative process.
You may already know the identity of the offender but if not, every effort will be made to identify the person or persons responsible.
If your report is made initially over the telephone, depending on how recently it occurred, you may be asked to retain and not wash the clothing you wore at the time of the assault. You can place these into a clean plastic bag if you wish to change them. The reason for this is to preserve potentially vital forensic evidence.
You may be asked (depending on how recently the incident occurred) to provide some ‘early evidence’ samples that may include a urine sample and a mouth swab. You may also be asked to agree to a forensic medical examination. The purpose of this is to assist in corroborating the report and to provide forensic evidence.
The SOLO will accompany the victim to the forensic medical examination. Adult victims will be seen by a trained forensic medical practitioner at one of the REACH centres which are not attached to police stations. The REACH centre offers counselling services, and an appointment can be made for you by the SOLO to attend an initial session. You will also be given an information pack detailing other services available.
Next the SOLO will explain how a statement can be taken – either a written statement or video interview depending on which is best for the victim and the investigation.
And they will liaise with detectives on the Rape Investigation Team or in the Child Protection Unit who will have responsibility for conducting a thorough investigation and seeking to bring the offender to justice.
The SOLO will also arrange for timely information on the progress of the investigation to be provided the victim and refer them to appropriate support agencies.
The force also has three Sexual Violence Advisers who can help victims with everything from housing, benefits, childcare and medical issues.