Guide

Rape and sexual assault: support

Last updated: 8 September 2017

Contacting the police

Call 999 to report a rape or attempted sexual assault.

You can also report it by:

If you've been raped or sexually assaulted, you're not to blame. The police and support organisations (for male and female victims) are there to help.

Rape and sexual abuse are crimes and the police take them seriously, no matter when the incident happened.

They have specially trained Sexual Offences Liaison Officers (SOLOs) who will be your one point of contact throughout the police investigation. They'll treat you with respect, consideration and dignity and will help keep you safe. They'll ask for information about the attack incident, like:

  • if you know your attacker
  • where it happened
  • when it happened
  • any other details that will help with their investigation

You can report an attack to the police straight away or later.

If you report an attack soon after it has happened, the police will try to gather physical or forensic evidence that could be gone if you report the crime later. There's guidance available to help you give the police as much evidence as possible.

You can request a male or female officer to interview you.

What happens after reporting rape or sexual assault

The police will help to support you when you report rape or sexual assault. This includes:

  • putting you in touch with support agencies such as Rape Crisis Scotland, Scottish Women's Aid and Victim Support Scotland for practical and emotional support (only with your permission – and they'll ask how you want to be contacted if it's no longer appropriate to contact you at home)
  • providing you with a SOLO
  • making sure they listen to any concerns, requests or requirements you may have

The police will need to gather details of the incident or incidents from you and investigate fully. They'll take a number of steps including:

  • interviewing you – you may also be asked to have a medical examination
  • advising you what happens next – and what's happening with your case
Where there is sufficient evidence, the police will arrest your attacker – be aware that you can't choose whether or not the police bring charges.

If it's likely your case will result in criminal charges

You'll be introduced to a Victim Information and Advice (VIA) officer who will:

  • keep you updated on the progress of your case
  • give you information about the criminal justice system
  • tell you what steps have been taken to protect you
  • put you in touch with other support organisations who can help you
You can also ask for information about your case at any point. You have rights to support, information and advice at all stages of the criminal justice system – from reporting the crime to going to court.

Extra support at court

If you're asked to give evidence at court, you'll be entitled to use special measures like:

  • giving evidence via a live TV link
  • screens to stop you having to see someone else involved with the case
  • a supporter staying with you while you give evidence

Guidance

Guidance is also available to help victims of rape and sexual assault:

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Rape and sexual assault: support
Contacting the police