Constabulary launches online tool to help victims report sexual offences
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A new online tool to report rape, sexual assault and harassment has been launched by Cheshire Constabulary.
The online reporting form is located on the Constabulary’s website and helps to collect all the information officers need to launch a thorough investigation without the need for victims to initially relive their trauma.
It comes as the Government’s recent release of the local criminal justice scorecards with a focus on police response to rape and sexual violence highlighted Cheshire as having the second highest rate nationally for charging rape suspects.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “We know that when people are subjected to such harrowing experiences, it can be extremely difficult for them to voice what has happened.
“That’s why this online reporting tool is so important. We can help to reduce the trauma of reliving the event by collecting the information in written form, while also helping victims to ensure that they are able to provide as much detail as they feel able to.
“Indeed, we’ve already had some really positive feedback from people who have used this facility who have told us that they could never have spoken about this face to face or over the phone with anyone, and that having this online option gave them the confidence to make a report.
“It’s another step that we’re taking as a Constabulary to provide the best possible service we can to victims of these horrific crimes, while also giving ourselves the best possible chance of securing charges and convictions of offenders.”
Latest figures show that Cheshire is performing well when it comes to securing these charges. Data for the 12-month period ending in September 2021 showed that Cheshire has a 6.6% success rate against a national average of 3.6%. Only Durham Constabulary outperforms Cheshire in this respect, with a success rate of 8.2%.
This performance is bolstered by number of initiatives, from introducing video streaming and location tracking platform GoodSAM in our Force Control Centre, to rolling out kiosks in our police stations and custody suites that download specific phone data from rape victims without them having to give up their phone for weeks.
And since last year, the Constabulary has deployed a team of uniformed and specially trained plain clothed officers to identify and tackle anyone who may be displaying predatory behaviours such as harassment, loitering without reason and stalking behaviour in key areas across the county.
CC Roberts said: “I’m encouraged that for securing charges in serious sexual offence cases, Cheshire is one of the best performing in the country, but the reality is that the figures are still nowhere near where they should be and we are committed to improving them further for victims.
“That’s why tools like the online reporting tool and these other measures and initiatives we’ve introduced are important – they are part of our continued commitment to tackling violence and intimidation against women and girls
“We want people to be confident that when reporting crimes such as rape to us in Cheshire that they will be believed, respected and will see justice.
“That’s why we’ve been working so hard to tackle head on violence and intimidation against women and girls and some of the steps we’ve taken show that we’re heading in the right direction.
“We’ve now become the first police force in the North West to utilise the GoodSAM Instant Help platform. This software will support vulnerable people especially in incidents of violence or intimidation against women, and will enable us to deliver justice for victims not only swiftly but also to capture real-time evidence which can be used in court.
“We have invested in data extraction kiosks – cutting the time it takes our investigators to receive this often vital evidence to just hours instead of weeks, and we’ll soon be introducing a mobile digital forensic unit – an unmarked van which will discreetly attend the homes of victims or crime scenes to enable officers to extract required data from digital devices.”
He added: “It is our mission to make the county a hostile environment to anyone who thinks they can cause harm – especially to women.
“It is important that we reassure people that we are taking action, but we will really build confidence through actions not words. This means we need to be out protecting people and preventing crime, but where it does happen we need to ensure we do everything we can to bring offenders to justice.”