reporting to the police

November 2, 2007 at 2:28 am (community response, sexual assault laws)

Reporting a rape or sexual assault to the police

Remember, even if the Police are called you don’t have to make a formal report if you don’t want to. It’s your choice.However, procedures have been put in place to reduce the trauma as much as possible. If you don’t make a formal report,the Police will only take the case to court in exceptional circumstances. If you decide to make a formal report, do so asearly as possible to facilitate the investigation process.You may find it hard to decide whether or not to report the sexual assault. You may feel it is important to do your best tohave the rapist caught, tried and convicted and therefore stopped from doing it again to you or other people. Talking it overwith a counsellor at a CASA or a person you trust, may help you to make up your mind. The most important thing is thatyou decide what’s best for you.If you do report the rape to the Police, make sure you are given a copy of your statement. You will need it if the case comesto Court. It may be a good idea for the first person you saw after the sexual assault to also make a statement.

Making a formal report

If you make a formal report you will be asked for a detailed statement about what happened. The Police will use theinformation in your statement to investigate the rape. If they catch and charge someone with rape, your statement will beneeded to take the case to court. Remember that the Police may still take the case to court if you don’t wish to make astatement. However, this will only be done where there is sufficient evidence to proceed without your statement. In thiscase you will be called as a witness.A formal report of rape or sexual assault is different from the short statement you would have made to the Police, if theywere called at the time of the sexual assault. The formal statement is more detailed. You have a right to have either afemale or a male Police Officer take your statement. Once you have notified the Police, they will start investigating the rape.If they catch someone who isn’t known to you, you may be requested to identify the person before charges can be made.This will be done using photographs or a line up of people at the Police station.

Police procedures

The Government has adopted a Police Code of Practice for dealing with sexual assault victims/survivors. This requires thePolice to:Take a victim/survivor to a CASA within 2 hours of reporting the sexual assault, if the victim/survivor wishes.Allow a victim/survivor to rest and receive medical assistance and/or support before giving their statement.Provide victim/survivors with written information regarding their rights and the support services available.Keep a victim/survivor informed of the progress of the Police investigations.Provide written reasons, on request, to a victim/survivor for any decision not to proceed with legal action againstthe accused.Victim/survivors also have the right to request that any Police decision be reviewed by the Office of Public Prosecutions andthat the written reason for the Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) decision be provided on request. The DPP is alsorequired to provide victim/survivor with written information about the committal and trial process and arrange pre and postcourt meetings with the barrister prosecuting the case.

The Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Unit (SOCA)

SOCA Units are located in each Police region. SOCA unit members are trained in dealing with victims of sexual assault.Members of the Unit take statements, arrange medical examinations and accompany the victim to court. They are available24 hours a day, every day of the year, throughout Victoria.This material has been prepared by South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault based upon the “Information for Womenabout Rape”, designed by Healthsharing Women’s Health Resource Service 1994.Adapted by Maxwell Clarke, Counsellor/Advocate. South Eastern CASA, and Loddon Campaspe CASA, August 2001 

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