CHESHIRE Police are supporting the national rape awareness campaign this week.
Staff and officers working for the Constabulary are reaching out to explain the skills and training they undertake has improved the way in which they work with victims to investigate what has happened to them.
The campaign also highlights the role alcohol plays in rape with national statistics showing that around 60% of cases reported involve alcohol.
The aim of the campaign is to get people openly talking about the issue and to take positive action when it comes to safeguarding themselves.
Cheshire Constabulary has invested in specially trained officers who investigate rape and provide skilled support to victims from the time they report an incident through to bringing a prosecution against an offender.
DS Angela Burns works as part of the team who has responsibility for establishing the best ways for the Constabulary to provide policing services for vulnerable people.
“It is essential that recognise that victims of sexual abuse and rape are in shock and are traumatised by what has happened to them and how we investigate a case should take account of the victims needs.
“We work with independent, dedicated support services such as the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre.
“They have trained advisors who provide long-term support and advice for victims and by working closely with them we can really support anyone who has been a victim from the time a report is made, through the investigation, right through until justice has been done.
“Serious sexual assaults are amongst the most traumatic of crimes to happen to anyone, men and women alike and we investigate any incidents reported vigorously.
“We want victims to know that we are here to help and want anyone who has been subjected to this type of crime to feel confident that they will receive the support they need from the Constabulary.”
PC Mel Williams works as a response officer for the Constabulary. She can be the first officer to respond when a rape is reported.
She said: “When a sexual assault or rape is called in, it comes to us first. When we arrive at the scene our first concern is to speak to the victim giving them as much support as we can whilst gathering information on what has happened.
“It is very difficult to get the information we need as the victim is often distressed and upset but we need find out quickly if they know who has assaulted them or if the attack was by a complete stranger.
“We need to know this so we can alter patrols or get assistance to increase the chances finding the offender as quickly as possible.”
“Support for victims does not stop with what we do” says DS Angie Burns,
“The Criminal Justice System is also there to support victims and in Cheshire we have access to 13 lawyers who are specially trained in prosecuting rape cases.
“We work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to get the best outcome for the victim - the successful prosecution of the offender.”
As part of the national campaign two emotive TV adverts will be aired nationally on Channel 5 as well as two local radio ads, one targeting women and the other targeting men to highlight the sensitive issue of rape when a bit of fun can quickly go wrong.
In addition posters are being distributed to colleges, campuses, hairdressers and crèches throughout Cheshire providing women and men with information on the subject and highlighting the support available.
With Christmas approaching a key message promoted by the campaign is around the role of alcohol.
The national campaign highlights the role alcohol plays in increasing vulnerability and encouraging people to put themselves in risky situations that they would not normally do if they had not had too much to drink.