What happens next?

Information for teenagers and young people who have been sexually assaulted

This page gives details for young people of what happens if you report sexual abuse and what support you can get if you have experienced sexual assault.

It also provides details of other support and advice available if you don’t want to speak to the police.

No-one can decide what is right for you, but if you do decide to make a report, we will do everything we can to make sure you receive the best possible care and support. Your well-being is our priority and we have specially trained officers who will help you. There are also other options available if you don’t want to speak to the police. 

Please remember there’s no justification for sexual assault, so do not think you are to blame. Whatever the situation, whatever your relationship with the person – you did not ask to be sexually assaulted and it wasn’t your fault.

Tell me more

You can report sexual assault to the police or the Shores, which is Dorset’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and is independent from the police.

Dorset Police will record any report of sexual assault and will work to investigate it. If you do not want the police to investigate at this time for any reason you will be referred to the Shores.

You can also speak to the Shores directly if you do not want to speak to the police at all. The police will only receive an anonymous report so they have knowledge of the number of reports and any repeat offences. If you change your mind later and do decide you want the police to investigate, the evidence gathered by the Shores can be passed to the police with your consent.

We went to ensure that you have the appropriate support in place while you go through this process. We can assist with informing your parent/guardian of the situation.

We strongly encourage young people to inform their parents/guardians where appropriate as they may be a valuable support to you through the process.

If for any reason a parent/guardian cannot be involved, then the Shores or police will find an appropriate adult to support you through the process. Children's social care/police will be informed to help protect you and others. 

With your consent, a full medical examination may be conducted within the Shores facility by a forensic nurse. The earlier this can happen the greater the chance of collecting evidence such as DNA. This should be done within a maximum of 7 days, however it is important to do this as soon as possible.

A medical examination must happen quickly as it is particularly important in order to gather what is often the strongest evidence for a case. Even if you don’t want to have the police involved, it is a good idea to have medical evidence gathered anyway, in case you change your mind later.

A Crisis Support Worker will be present to support you during the examination and will help you to get support. If you have self-referred they will be responsible for making sure all the samples are correctly recorded. If a police investigation is taking place then this is done by a SOLO (a specially trained Sexual Offence Liaison Officer), who also speaks with the medical staff.

Young people under the age of 16 can consent to a medical examination if they are believed to have the intelligence, competence and understanding to fully appreciate what is involved. Otherwise a parent/guardian would need to consent on your behalf. If you did not wish to involve a parent/guardian then the Shores would source an appropriate adult from children's social care to consent on your behalf.

You will not be made to have any examination that you do not understand, or do not want to do, and you will be told what is happening at all stages.

Many victims are worried that people will find out what happened to them. This is not the case, the law protects you and gives you anonymity for the rest of your life.

This means that no information, such as your name, address, where you work, who your family and friends are, can be published by the media or on social media.

What happens if I want the police to investigate?

If you do decide you would like the police to investigate your report, officers will need to work with you to conduct a full investigation. Some cases may then go to court to decide what happens to the person accused of assaulting you. Officers and staff will support you through the process.

What the investigation includes:

  • The police will gather all the evidence available to put forward a case to the specialist Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) team who make a decision about charging the person.
  • A medical examination (if it has been reported within the time frame, usually 7 days)
  • Your account of what happened will be taken and recorded on video
  • If you have spoken to the offender on a mobile phone or electronic device it is likely that this will be kept and downloaded by officers as it could be a valuable source of information. 

A specially trained Sexual Offence Liaison Officer (SOLO) will be assigned to you for the duration of the investigation. They will be the person who conducts your interview, and will be your main point of contact from the police.

If you do not have contact details and need to contact an officer involved in your care, please call 101 and request to speak to that officer. You can also request a call-back or for a message to be passed to a particular officer online here.

SOLOs like many police officers work a variety of shifts. Therefore it may take a few days to receive return phone calls, so please don't let this be a cause for concern. 

SOLOs also work with the Shores and ISVAs (Independent Sexual Violence Advisors) to provide you with care and support.

 

To help the police investigation please let us know:

  • If you remember something not already included in your current statement
  • If your contact details change
  • If the crime involved any type of hostility, for example you were targeted because of your (or your perceived) race, sexuality, religion, disability or gender identity
  • If you have any needs that we might need to know about to support you in the best way we can. For example; mobility, communication or religious needs. 

If you decide you wish for a police investigation to be progressed, over the next few days the officer will help you make a detailed statement and conduct a visually recorded interview about what happened.

This is conducted by a SOLO and is recorded so that the courts can understand your report fully. The role of the SOLO is to gain as much information from you as possible and they will have to refer to parts of your body and what happened to you in detail.

We understand that this can be quite stressful or upsetting but is vital to an investigation and once it has been finished you are not likely to have to revisit this again. In some cases the interview may be delayed until you’re physically and emotionally strong enough to go ahead.

There are a number of processes for the police to go through before a case can be brought to court. The officer in charge of your case will gather all of the evidence. This will be reviewed by a sergeant within the Dorset Police Child Protection Team who will make sure there is enough evidence for a jury to be able to make a decision. If this is the case the file will be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who make the final decision as to whether it will go to court.

 

If the accused pleads not-guilty, you will be required to be cross examined by the defence barrister at court, but your video interview will be played rather than you having to say everything again.

There will be special measures which you will be entitled to assist with this. You will also be able to have your ISVA or SOLO with you to offer support.

Special measures at court

There are special measures which will be granted by the court to assist you with giving evidence. They will be requested by the officer in charge of your case on your behalf.

Screen separation:

  • You will be in the main court room but a screen will be put up to separate you from the suspect
  • You will still be able to see the judge and jury
  • The barristers will move so that you can see who is asking questions
  • You will not be able to see the suspect and they will not be able to see you
  • You will not be able to see the public gallery and they will not be able to see you.

Live link:

  • You will be in a completely separate room to the court room (currently still within the court building)
  • You will be in front of a two-way television where you can see the person asking the questions
  • You will be able to answer the questions via this means. 

You will be asked which you prefer but it is up to the judge as to what will be applied.

Young people and victims of sexual abuse are entitled to an enhanced service under the Victims’ Code. This means that you can be provided with extra support and services through the process. With our partners we will work to ensure you get the support you need.

For more information about the Victims’ Code and your rights please click here

Further help and advice

You can report sexual assault to the police or the Shores, which is Dorset’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and is independent from the police.

Dorset Police will record any report of sexual assault and will work to investigate it. If you do not want the police to investigate at this time for any reason you will be referred to the Shores.

You can also speak to the Shores directly if you do not want to speak to the police at all. The police will only receive an anonymous report so they have knowledge of the number of reports and any repeat offences. If you change your mind later and do decide you want the police to investigate, the evidence gathered by the Shores can be passed to the police with your consent.

 

Dorset Police:

Call 101 or report online here. Dial 999 in an emergency.

 

The Shores, Dorset SARC:

Call 01202 552 056 or visit www.the-shores.org.uk

The Shores offers support for victims of sexual assault including crisis support, helping you to speak with counsellors and other people who can help you with your physical and emotional well-being.

How to find the Shores: 5 Madeira Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1QQ. When you arrive at Madeira Road if coming off the roundabout the Shores will be on your right-hand side. There is a multi-story car-park walking distance from the Shores, on the right-hand side before the bend in the road.

Opening times: the Shores is open to walk-in self-referrals from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. There is also an out of hours telephone contact service 24/7 on 01202 552 056.

The Shores, Dorset SARC:

The Shores offers support for victims of sexual assault including crisis support, helping you to speak with counsellors and other people who can help you with your physical and emotional well-being.

Call 01202 552 056 or visit www.the-shores.org.uk

How to find the Shores: 5 Madeira Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1QQ. When you arrive at Madeira Road if coming off the roundabout the Shores will be on your right-hand side. There is a multi-story car-park walking distance from the Shores, on the right-hand side before the bend in the road.

Opening times: the Shores is open to walk-in self-referrals from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. There is also an out of hours telephone contact service 24/7 on 01202 552 056.

 

Dorset Rape Crisis:

Dorset Rape Crisis offers practical and emotional support to anyone who has been or is being sexually abused. 

Call 01202 308855 or visit www.dorsetrapecrisis.org

 

Childline:

Childline offer help and advice around a wide range of issues for any child or young person up until their 19th birthday.

Call 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk

 

Over the Rainbow:

Advice, support and information for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Dorset.

Call 01202 257 478 or visit www.rainbowbournemouth.co.uk

If you do not have contact details and need to contact an officer involved in your case, please call 101 and request to speak to that officer. You can also request a call-back or for a message to be passed to a particular officer online here.

SOLOs like many police officers work a variety of shifts. Therefore it may take a few days to receive return phone calls, so please don't let this be a cause for concern. 

To help the police investigation please let us know:

  • If you remember something not already included in your current statement
  • If your contact details change
  • If the crime involved any type of hostility, for example you were targeted because of your (or your perceived) race, sexuality, religion, disability or gender identity
  • If you have any needs that we might need to know about to support you in the best way we can. For example; mobility, communication or religious needs. 

Finding out that your child has been sexually assaulted can be very upsetting. Most importantly: believe them.

Stay calm, listen carefully and reinforce that it is not their fault for the abuse to have happened.

If they haven’t already, support them to make contact for help and support. The options are detailed on this page and there is lots of ongoing support available to assist with recovery.

Acts Fast support parents/carers of sexually abused children. Call 01202 797217 or visit www.actsfast.org.uk

The NSPCC can offer help, advice and support on 0808 800 5000 or visit www.nspcc.org.uk 

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