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Considering Reporting to the Police

Devon and Cornwall Constabulary are committed to supporting those who have experienced rape or serious sexual assault. They have specially trained officers – Sexual Offences Liaison Officers (SOLOs) who can assist you through the Criminal Justice process, if that is what you decide you want to do.

This information has been put together by Devon and Cornwall Police for your guidance. We appreciate that not everyone affected by this type of crime will necessarily want to talk to the police right away and still encourage you to make contact with an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) if you need more information. However, the following information may make that decision easier to make;

First steps: contacting the police

You can either come to a police station or you can phone us and we will arrange for an officer to come and talk to you. You can have a friend or family member present when you meet the police. Please call 999 in an emergency and 101 in a non-emergency.

You can choose whether to speak to a male or female Sexual Offences Liaison officer (SOLO), who will be your single point of contact with the police. They will keep you updated about the investigation.

They will ask you the following initial questions:

  • Your name and address
  • When and where you were assaulted
  • What happened to you
  • Whatever you can tell us about the attacker (what they looked or sounded like, what they were wearing, how old they were, etc.), or even if you know who they are. We want to be able to pass on a description so that the police officers on patrol can be looking out for them

We realise it might be difficult or embarrassing to talk about what has happened, but it is important that you tell us everything you can remember. If you don’t understand any words the police use, or what they are telling you, please ask them to try and explain it to you in a different way. We will endeavour to treat you with sensitivity and respect.

When you report to the Police, they will want the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. You will need to tell the Police where this clothing is, and an officer will advise you of the best action to take.

Medical examination:

You may be asked to give your permission to being examined by a doctor. This is to retrieve vital DNA evidence after the assault. Please click here for further information about Forensic Medical Examinations.

Police interview:

If you decide to report the assault, you will need to be prepared to give the specialist officer (SOLO) as much information, in as much detail as possible. The officer will understand that the interview is likely to be difficult for you. They should understand that you may need to take things slowly and have breaks when you need to. If you feel you need a break- please tell the officer. It is in everybody’s interests that you are as comfortable as possible during the interview. Otherwise your account may suffer by missing important details. Our specialist officers are trained to make sure you are treated tactfully and sensitively during this interview.

Normally the interview will be filmed using a discreet camera and recorded on video or DVD. If you are interviewed in this way, the Police can apply to have this played in court. However, you will have the option to make a written statement. This would be fully explained to you by the specially trained officer.

Will I have to go to Court?

That’s up to you. We will continue to support you whether you choose to go to court or not.