The rise in rape and sexual assaults during the winter has been highlighted in a police campaign. The ‘Rape shatters lives, there is no excuse’ campaign has been reflected by an increase in the number of reported cases to Cheshire Constabulary’s Dedicated Rape Unit, which was set up a year ago. The police talk about the work they do with other agencies to help support the victim

CHESHIRE Constabulary’s Dedicated Rape Unit works in partnership with St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), which is based in Manchester.

It also works with the Cheshire Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC).

Together they provide rape and sexual abuse victims with the support, advice and counselling they need to deal with what has happened and help bring the offenders to justice.

The partnership between Cheshire police, RASASC and St Mary’s SARC has shown positive results.

In the months between July and September of last year a total of 80.5% of Cheshire rapes reported to RASASC were also reported to police which, police say, suggests victims are becoming increasingly confident in the criminal justice process.

Historically, victims have been reluctant to report a rape to the police for a variety of reasons.

These include fear of reprisal – especially in cases where they had a relationship with the offender – and reliving the emotional and physical trauma associated with the case.

Detective Inspector Debbie Dodd, of the Dedicated Rape Unit, said: “Due to the fact that not all victims want to pursue a criminal complaint through the police, the partnership provides victims with support to make the right choice for them while also providing advice and guidance about their well-being.

“Moving forward, it is hoped that victims will have the confidence to speak out about what has happened to them in the knowledge that they will be supported, and particularly those victims with vulnerabilities.”

Cheshire police say the joint approach and seamless referral between the agencies involved in the investigation and support of rape victims has increased confidence in the service provided and has led to victims coming forward, not only to report a rape but also to stay the course and see it through the justice system to a successful prosecution.

At each stage of the investigation and prosecution those involved are experts in dealing with rape and sexual assault.

From the detectives working in the Dedicated Rape Unit to the crisis workers and doctors at the SARC who provide support and forensic medical services, from the specialist rape lawyers and paralegal officers from the Crown Prosecution Service based in the rape unit, through to the counsellors and independent sexual violence advisers (ISVAs) from RASASC – all work to support the victim and reduce the impact on the victim at a time when they are most vulnerable.