You have the right to speak to a female police officer. Sometimes special detectives who deal with reports of sexual offences are not based at every station and may take some time to arrive.
Delays in reporting cannot be used against you in court, but the sooner you report the rape, the easier it is to collect evidence, and catch the perpetrator.
Reporting without laying a charge
If you decide to report without laying a charge the police officer must record the report in the occurrence book and give you an occurrence book number (OB number).
Reporting and laying a charge
Ideally your statement should be taken in a private room by an officer of the same gender as you. If you are very upset, are drunk or drugged, or are injured, they make take a preliminary statement and then take a second statement when you are feeling better.
• If you decide to report the rape to the police, you must go to the station nearest to where the rape happened. Take a friend or family member with you for support.
• Ideally take a notebook with you to write down the details and telephone numbers of those who assisted you, as well as your case number. If you are afraid that the alleged rapist(s) will come after you, tell the police this. This may make it less likely that the alleged rapist(s) is allowed out on bail after being arrested.
• The police will ask you details about what happened to you and will write this all down. It is your right to do so in your home language, and the police should get someone to assist you with this. Do not sign your statement until you are happy with it, and that it says exactly what you have said.
• It is your right to get a copy of any statements you make from the police.
• When giving details of the rape it is important to tell the police if you were drunk or under the influence of drugs. This will not be used against you. If you are drunk or on drugs you cannot consent to sex.
• You have the right to ask that the alleged rapist be tested for HIV at the state’s expense if he is caught. Remember to take PEP medicine as the doctor prescribed it, even if the test comes back negative.
• If the police say you cannot report your rape, do not give up. It is your right to report, even if the rape happened a long time ago. If they still refuse, go to another station and explain what happened. You can then make a complaint about this.
When a case has been opened
• An investigating officer (IO) will take over your case. The police should give you the IO’s contact details.
• If the perpetrator is arrested, the IO has a responsibility to inform you.
• If bail is granted, the IO has a responsibility to inform you.
• If you have to identify the perpetrator, you should be made to feel safe by the police. This may happen in an identity parade if you can recognise the perpetrator, or via mug shots or an identikit if you don’t know them.
If you would like to find out more about the process of reporting a rape, watch the virtual tour of the criminal justice system here.
Click here for Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.