Ground-breaking team to support victims of serious sexual assaults
A ground-breaking new team of Sussex Police officers and staff has been established to help support victims of serious sexual assaults. The introduction of the team is an extra area of investment for Sussex Police and has been financed by a rise in the police precept proportion of council tax, secured by Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne.
The Sexual Offence Investigation Trained (SOIT) team is the first unit of its kind in the country to include police staff and newcomers to the force as well as police officers.
The team members act as a single point of contact for victims and are on hand to support victims throughout a criminal investigation from initial reporting right through to court proceedings and beyond.
The introduction of this dedicated role will help investigators to conduct high quality investigations in the knowledge that the victim will be receiving the level of care, support and information that they need.
You can watch some of the team talk about their exciting new role here.
Assistant Chief Constable Nick May said: "This is an example of the force putting extra resources in place to improve the service we provide to those who are victims of some of the most serious crimes.
"We recognise how hard it can be for victims of sexual offences to make a report and there have always been arrangements in place to support them when they do so, but with introduction of these dedicated roles we are now better equipped to respond when people have the courage to come forward, which is already happening increasingly often."
PCC Katy Bourne, said: "My commitment to support victims of crime and put them at the heart of the criminal justice system remains a key priority in our Police and Crime Plan.
"That is why I was pleased that the public supported an uplift in last year’s precept - with a large proportion going to increase resources in Sussex Police’s Public Protection unit. These specially trained officers will perform a vital role in terms of case processing, supporting investigation and providing services directly to victims of serious sexual assault.
"All victims tell me that what matters the most to them is being kept informed. So it is vital that victims of serious sexual assault receive ongoing communication and that there is a joined up approach from all of those involved – it is only by doing this that we can contribute to a more just outcome."
You can find information about specific support services available for victims of rape and serious sexual assault on the PCC’s Safe: Space Sussex website here.