Force Highlights Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week
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As part of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, which begins today, Monday 1st February, Cleveland Police officers are highlighting the support that is available to victims should they wish to access help.
Victims of sexual offences are able to access support from police and partner agencies, and a wide range of help is available; from reporting a crime to support all the way through a judicial process.
In 2020, there were 1863 sexual offences reported to Cleveland Police which varied in nature and type.
Assistant Chief Constable Lisa Orchard said: "I would really like to stress that we understand how hard it is to come forward and report these incidents. I want to reassure victims firstly, that if you report an incident to the police there are specially trained officers, male and female, who will listen to you and support services also have specially trained staff as well who are used to dealing with this kind of offence and victims of these offences too.
"If you do report, whether it’s to the police or support services, you will be listened to. You will be believed and you will get the support that you require. I can’t emphasise enough that these individuals have dealt with numerous cases and have lots of experience with survivors of sexual assault. We listen to them, we listen to their experiences and we are constantly looking to change our services to make sure that we offer the best we can to them.
"Another thing I would like to stress is that whether this happened 25 years ago or just this week, it matters not to us. What matters to us is that victims have the confidence to report and that we can provide support to them. We will support victims every step of the way and hopefully we will prevent other people from becoming victims of offences."
Detective Superintendent Helen Barker said: “Cleveland Police will take all complaints of rape and sexual offences seriously, and will treat victims with respect and dignity.
“We understand that it can be difficult for victims and that people may not be completely sure what happened or how to talk about it. Cleveland Police have specially trained officers who, together with our partner organisations Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), ARCH North East and Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS), are here to listen and work together to support victims in any way we can.
“Importantly, any information reported to police could help us bring offenders to justice and make sure that victims, and other people in a similar situation, are kept safe.
“Cleveland Police is committed to providing an excellent service to victims of sexual offences. In early 2021 we have plans to double the numbers of specially trained officers and we are committed to providing continual training to our officers so that they can maximise investigative opportunities whilst understanding the challenges which face the survivors of serious sexual offences.”
Anyone who has been a victim of rape or sexual abuse can contact Teesside Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for help and support, regardless of whether or not the offence has been reported to police.
SARC provides 24 hour crisis intervention and a range of options. SARC works in partnership with local specialist services (such as Barnado’s, A Way Out and Arch) and can access support on behalf of victims. SARC crisis workers are available on 03333448283 at any time of day or night.
Contact details for SARC, A Way Out, Barnado’s and Arch are as follows:
A Way Out: http://www.awayout.co.uk