Dedicated Rape Unit is here for victims of sexual assault Date published: 17th December 2015 9.04am

As thoughts turn towards Christmas, and families come together to celebrate, some people will have nothing to celebrate. Cheshire Police will be dealing with victims who are often traumatised by their experience.

Cheshire Police are here for you, when and where you need us, and the feature below highlights how one of our specialised unit are committed to helping victims not only during the festive period, but 365 days a year.

Historically, at this time of year we see an increase in the number of reports we receive of rape and sexual assaults.

Being a victim of this type of crime, can be a harrowing experience for anyone. Survivors of this crime need support from a variety of agencies to help them recover from their ordeal, and is part of the reason for this feature on the Constabulary’s Dedicated Rape Unit.

Cheshire Constabulary is committed to being here for victims, and in 2012 the organisation opened the Dedicated Rape Unit. The Unit consists of 31 officers, a mixture of men and women who support victims. They cover the whole of the county, and provide cover on a rota basis, with shifts starting at 8am and 2pm. The officers work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to build water tight cases against perpetrators. This close relationship with the CPS is further developed due to the fact both officers and solicitors are situated with the Unit themselves.

There is no ‘normal’ day in the Unit. One day detectives could be answering the phone and dealing with 5, 6, 7 new cases, whilst another ‘quieter’ day enables officers to work on existing cases.

Detective Chief Superintendent Serena Kennedy, Head of the Public Protection Directorate said,

“Officers in the Unit deal with a vast amount of cases, and offer a bespoke service to each victim they encounter. They provide support, build trust and a positive relationship with the victim, guiding them through the ordeal as it progresses through the criminal justice system.”

Between April 2014 and March 2015, the Unit dealt with 467 reported incidents of rape and sexual assault. Each incident is assigned to a detective in the unit, who have the job of meticulously and empathetically gathering evidence for the case. This includes accompanying the victim to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Manchester, to be assessed, dealing with and interviewing suspects in custody, speaking to witnesses and visiting crime scenes. Officers are attentive to every detail of the case, as they’re determined to secure justice for the victim.

Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Bennett said,

“The service provided by the Dedicated Rape Unit is an exceptional one. Although the victims are subjected to a harrowing ordeal, they are often very complimentary about the service they receive. Officers take the time to build up a relationship of cooperation and trust with the victim, ensuring they’re 100% happy with the subsequent steps as the case progresses.”

Officers in the Dedicated Rape Unit are specialist investigators and their professionalism and expertise is key to achieving a high conviction rate for the crime. The work they do and their caring attitude was recently rated as better than the national average in an Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary report.

One Detective in the Unit said,

“No matter how difficult my day is, it will never have been as difficult as that of my victim. I can always be certain that I have spent my day doing something that really makes a difference to someone.”