Reporting to the police
If you report the incident to Police what happens next will vary, depending on when the sexual violence occurred, but may include:
- an officer attending and taking an initial account – your SWO can support you through this process, as outlined above;
- possibly being taken to a SARC for a forensic medical examination.
Later on, the police investigation will begin and you will give a full statement (which is sometimes video-recorded).
You may also be assigned a Specially Trained Officer (STO). The STO will facilitate your care from initial report, through medical examination, interview and subsequent investigation. They will then identify and engage the most appropriate methods of support.
Retain and preserve evidence
In the event of a recent assault, it is recommended that you do not:
- use the lavatory or discard underwear or sanitary products;
- wash, shower, bathe or shave;
- wash your hands;
- remove, wash, discard or destroy clothing worn or bedding and towels used at the time of the incident or subsequent to it;
- drink or eat anything, including non-essential medication;
- clean your teeth;
- disturb the scene or allow other people or animals to enter area where the incident took place, where possible.
Where possible you should preserve non-physical evidence, such as relevant texts, social media messages and emails.
If you attend a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) or police station, it is important to take any underwear or clothing worn at the time of the incident in a plastic bag, if not being worn for the journey. The place of the incident should be made secure if possible.