Reporting to the police
If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, it is entirely up to you whether or not you choose to report it to the police. No-one else can or should make that decision for you.
You can choose to report to the police anonymously as well, for recent or historical offences. If you report anonymously an ‘intel report’ is passed on to the relevant police department in your area and this can be used to put a perpetrator on the police’s radar and it helps the police build a picture of what types of attacks are happening and where. If you report anonymously it does not mean that the person you have reported will be arrested unless a formal report is received and/or the person has access to children and/or vulnerable people.
The police may contact the agency you used to give the anonymous report and ask them to contact you on their behalf if they want more information, however they will not have your contact details. You can report anonymously in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area by calling The Elms Sexual Assault Referral Centre: www.theelmssarc.org
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 and Peterborough area 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.
You can self refer to The Elms by giving them a call and making an appointment. If you report a recent assault directly to the police, they can also 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 choose to report what has happened to you to the police directly, 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. Obviously, if it is an emergency and you are still at risk, it is best to call 999.
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 and Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership also have Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVA) and a Children and Young People’s ISVAs (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.