We understand that some people who have experienced sexual violence want to report this to the police and some people do not. We recognise that it is a personal choice and that this decision can only be made by you.
If you choose to report what has happened to you to the police, you may wish to speak to a female officer if that would make it easier for you. You can call 101, the non-emergency police contact number, to speak to your local police force and tell them you are calling to report a sexual offence.
If you were raped within the last seven days, you can go to the nearest Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for a forensic medical examination to gather any physical evidence. The SARC in Cambridgeshire is The Elms at Hinchingbrooke Hospital site, near Huntingdon. You can find out more about what to do if you were assaulted very recently here.
SARCs are specialist medical centres for men and women who have been the victim of a sexual offence. They can conduct a forensic medical examination to collect physical evidence and document any injuries that you may have received. You can go there yourself or if you report a recent assault to the police they will accompany you there. You don’t need to have decided whether or not to report to go to a SARC and they can store the evidence for up to seven years if you decide to report later.
If you do choose to report to the police, they will take an initial account and then arrange a time for you to provide a full statement. This can be video recorded and used as evidence later down the line if your case goes to court. If you have been assaulted recently but are unsure about reporting, you can still have physical evidence collected and stored at the SARC. This will be stored for up to seven years and can be given to the police if you later decide you would like to report. Many people who have experienced rape or sexual abuse do not wish to report immediately but may decide that they want to at a later time.
When giving a statement to the police, try not to leave anything out, however embarrassing or painful it may be. If you can’t remember something, it is OK to say so. Officers that investigate these types of offence are specially trained and are aware that there may be aspects of things that have happened that you will find particularly difficult to discuss.
Rights of Women have produced handbook for adult survivors called From Report to Court, which provides a detailed guide on the whole process, from deciding whether or not to report, to the investigation stages and courtroom procedures.
Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre also has an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (ISVA) and a Children and Young People’s ISVA (ChISVA) who can provide you with further information about reporting to the police and support you through the criminal justice system. For more information on the ISVA service, please click here.