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Choosing Whether to Report an Incident

You can report a sexual offence to the police at any time – for example, immediately after the incident or days later. However, it’s important to know that if you report the crime immediately after it has happened, the chances of the police collecting evidence and effectively investigating the crime are increased.

If you report an attack at a later stage, it’s likely that any physical evidence may be lost. Ideally, medical evidence should be collected within 72 hours (three days) of the attack. Your clothes may also be needed as evidence so, if possible, remember to take spare clothing with you to change into. If not, don’t worry – the police will be able to provide a spare set of clothes for you to change into.

The police are trained to deal with cases of rape and sexual assault, and they are there to help you. They have set procedures that ensure you get the support you need and, where possible, they collect the evidence they need. However, only you can decide whether to report the sexual assault or rape to the police.

To do this, many police forces will work with the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in their area. However, at all times the choice is yours as to whether you report to the police directly or seek help from a SARC with or without police involvement.

If you are unsure what to do, you can get help and advice and information by calling any of these organisations:

If you choose to report an incident The Police have set procedures in order to preserve and obtain the best possible evidence. It is now common practice for example to take the victim statement on video. This is known as an ABE interview which stands for Achieve Best Evidence. This is now done at a SARC where possible and not the police station, although there may be cases where it does have to be completed at a Police Station.

To report an incident:

  • Call the police on 999.
  • Even though you probably want to, don’t have a wash or brush your teeth.
  • Try not to have a cigarette, or eat or drink anything
  • Don’t change your clothes

If circumstances have changed from your initial reaction where you chose not to report to the police then it is still perfectly within your rights to do so. Please see the below advice which you may wish to consider if you have not reported.

  • If you do not want to report an incident immediately, you can still take steps to preserve some evidence yourself. In cases like this please call the non-emergency 101 number.
  • Keep the clothes you were wearing during the attack and don’t wash them.
  • Take photographs of any injuries sustained during the attack.




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