Reporting Sexual Assault to Police – STEPS 1-5


[Background music]>>Tania: There are several ways to contact Police to report a sexual assault. Firstly, if you’re still in danger, or it’s just happened, please pick up the phone and dial 111 and ask for Police. Or otherwise call, or pop in to your nearest Police station. You’ll find the contact details on the New Zealand Police website. We understand sexual assault is a very sensitive matter So when you arrive at the Police station, please ask the person at the counter, if you can speak to somebody in private. We can take you to a room where you may feel more comfortable talking. I really want to encourage you to bring your friend or whanau members that you feel safe with and trust as your support people. We will also offer you support from a person who works for Rape Crisis, or another support agency in the community. [“So how may I help you today?”] Once you are in a private and safe room, we will ask you for your name, address, and date of birth, and a few details of what happened. That’s really so we can get the right person that will listen and talk to you about the next steps. We don’t want you to re-live your story more than you need to. There are detectives who are specially trained in dealing with sexual assaults. Ideally, that’s who we would get to come in and listen to your story. This is about you and your story if you choose to report a sexual assault to Police. We really want to journey with you each step of the way, and you’re not alone.>>Anthony (Interviewee): So once it’s been established that a victim is reporting a sexual assault complaint, the matter is normally referred to detectives. Detectives are the ones that are trained to deal with victims of sexual assaults. One of the first things that a detective will do when they meet with a victim of sexual assault is to conduct an initial interview. This is to find out what has happened, when it happened, and where it happened and it’s also to ensure the safety of the victim.>>Anthony (Detective): “So Crystal, I just need to grab a few basic details from you, just so that we can establish what’s happened and work through things from there. ” “This is not a formal interview; we’ll arrange to do a formal interview at a later date, okay?”>>Anthony (Interviewee): During the initial interview with the victim we will normally advise them that there is specialist support services available to them. It is up to the victim whether they want to receive those services and those services are normally available to them right throughout the investigation process.>>Anthony (Detective): “Crystal, thanks for all that information, I’ll just let you know we’ve got a support service here in the Hutt: Hutt Rape Crisis; they’re a fantastic, specialist support agency.” “I’d like to contact them and get them to come on in and get someone to see you and talk to you, offer you some support.” “We’ve got a lovely lady Irene there that I know is working tonight, and if you’d like I can get a hold of her and get her to come in and speak to you and see you, would you like that? Okay.” “Fantastic, I’ll just be a minute, I’ll just go and make that phone call and I’ll be back shortly.”>>Irene (Interviewee): Our priority when we meet a victim is their health and safety and wellbeing. And we also make sure that they understand why they’re at the police station or wherever they are speaking with police, what it is that their asking the police to do for them and understand the process as it unfolds.>>Irene (Interviewee): Where we meet victims depends on who gives us a call. We can get called out to a college, we can get called to a hospital. Sometimes clients come to us, ring up and want to come in and talk to someone and then want to make a report to Police. Sometimes they’ve rung 111 and the police have attended at their home. We will go in as long as police are there, and support them through that part of the process. But I think best practice really is right from the beginning, and letting them know that we’re going to be there from the beginning of the process to the end, so they have someone consistent.>>Irene (Support Worker): “There is something important that I think you need to know right off the bat is that I’m not a police officer, I don’t work for the police, we work very closely together as a team and our main role is to look after you (and mum), and to make sure that your health and wellbeing and safety is paramount to us.” “I’ve got a card here and a pamphlet which I’ll give both you and mum, it explains who we are and what we’re all about and for the most part I’m here to support you through the next part of the process.” “Now sometimes what happens is that… … it’s easier for you to talk to me if mum wasn’t in the room so if you would prefer it I could ask mum to leave and she can go and make a cup of coffee and that and you and I can have a chat?” “So, that’s okay with you?”
>>Crystal (Victim): “Mmhm”>>Irene (Support Worker): “So would you mind mum if you just popped out for a few minutes while we have a wee chat?”>>Anthony (Detective): “Hi Crystal, obviously you’ve had a chance to talk to Irene now,” “the next step is for us to look at a medical examination.” “Now the purpose of the medical is one: for your health and safety,” “to look at things like making sure there’s no sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancies, things like that.” “The second part is we can often get some forensics from it as well.” “So that’s the second part of it, would you be happy to do that?” “Okay, that’s fantastic.” “What we’ll do is we’ll head into there now,” “we’ll just contact the doctor let her know that we’re coming and we’ll go from there.”>>Cathy (Interviewee): So ideally, our service would become involved very early on in the process. In terms of preserving forensic evidence, timeliness is quite important so the sooner the better. And certainly in terms of things like emergency contraception, and antibiotics for infection, the sooner the better as well. But clearly sometimes that doesn’t happen, sometimes it can take days for clients to come forward either to the police or the support agency so there’s a delay there. And sometimes people aren’t sure at all about what they want to do, and that can take time as well to make that decision.>>Cathy (Doctor): “I’m Cathy, I’m one of the doctors that works here at this service “If you’re okay to go wait with Irene for a few minutes,” “we’ve got a room just this side of the corridor over here” “and that will give Anthony and I a few moments to just take a few details.” “then I’ll come down and get you and we’ll explain the rest of the process.”>>Cathy (Interviewee): The most important thing when we see anybody that’s been sexually assaulted is their health and wellbeing, and that takes priority over the forensic examination every time. It’s really about taking care of them, checking for any injuries or any physical problems that may be going on, trying to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection, and organising any ongoing psychological support that they, or their family, may need.>>Cathy (Doctor): “Thank you for giving me that time with Anthony; it’s just enabled me to get a few details from him.” “He’s now gone off for the evening but will be back later on,” “to pick up the kit of the samples and also to take the two of you home again at the end.” “Okay, shall we go through to the other room? ” “I need to ask you some questions at the beginning and then we’ll do the examination itself” “and then when we finish we can do the shower and get you something to eat or drink, and then I’ll bring you back down here,” “and I would imagine we might be about an hour or a little bit longer.”>>Cathy (Interviewee): What’s involved depends very much what the patient wants to happen, some people will want a full forensic examination as well as a health and safety check, and some people will just want the health and safety check and won’t want any samples taken at all, and that’s completely fine. I feel it’s really important we listen to what the patient needs above everything else. If they do want a full forensic examination, we usually take samples from the hair, from the surface of their skin, from the genital area and we might take blood and urine samples as well.>>Cathy (Doctor): “So we’ve finished all the questions Crystal.” “Well done, I know that bit’s never particularly easy.” “What we need to do now is start the examination bit,” “that’s the taking the samples and checking you over for any injuries and things,” “and that happens in the room just over there.” “And in that room I’ll be wearing a gown which looks a little bit strange,” “and some gloves and things and that’s just to prevent my DNA getting into the samples,” “but I’ll also get you to wear a gown as well if that’s okay,” “it’s just the easiest way to examine you.” “We do need to collect your clothing for the Police; they’ve asked us for that, if that’s okay?” “So we will take your clothing and put it in bags and give it to police at the end of the evening. ” “Have you got any questions about what’s going to happen from now?” “Okay, shall we go through to the other room? Okay.””>>Cathy (Interviewee): A forensic examination will always take a bit longer than a non-forensic examination, just because of the number of samples we have to take, and the examination is always guided by what the patient tells us happened to them. So for example we might need to do some samples from a patient’s neck if they report having been kissed there and we may have to do genital samples if someone’s reporting that there was full sexual assault. So certainly what we do with the examination depends on what the patient is telling us at the time.>>Cathy (Doctor): So the next thing we’re going to move onto is the genital examination which is, having a look at the genital area, both outside and inside, if we can, and taking some swabs which are very similar to the swabs we’ve taken from your neck and other parts of your body. Do you feel okay about having the genital examination? Yeap?
Okay. So what we’ll do is, I’ll get you to pop your legs up into here, I know it feels a little bit weird and uncomfortable but it gives me the best view of that area, and it enables me to take the samples really quickly , and that whole process should only take two or three minutes, and then the last thing we’ll get you to do is take one of these pots, and go and do a urine sample for me, and then we’re pretty much finished.>>Cathy (Interviewee): The sooner we see someone after they’ve reported a sexual assault, the more likely we are to get forensic evidence which is usually foreign DNA from an alleged assailant. So the longer we leave that, the more likely it is that someone will have been to the bathroom, washed their hands, had a shower, changed their clothes, and all of these activities can result in loss of the forensic evidence. So ideally we would like to see people within a small number of hours. Unfortunately that’s not always possible but that’s certainly the ideal.>>Cathy (Doctor): “So we’ve finished the examination Crystal, and we got all the samples we needed which is wonderful, so well done, you’ve done a great job this evening. The last thing we need to do before you can jump in the shower or have something to eat or drink, is just to give you these medicines. This one is the emergency contraceptive or the morning after pill, which is to prevent pregnancy; and this one is an antibiotic, to prevent the most common types of sexually transmitted infection. So if you want to hold on to those, I’ll take you through to the shower and show you were you can get changed.”>>Nicole (Interviewee): Normally when the victim of a sexual assault comes for their formal interview, they’ll be accompanied by a detective, and the specialist support person and possibly a relative or friend. I will meet with them and show them the interviewing and the monitoring rooms, and explain the interview process to them.>>Nicole (Detective): “Okay, Marie, if you and Irene just make yourselves comfortable to in here, help yourself to tea and coffee just around the corner. And Crytsal, if you’d just like to come with me, I’ll show you where we’re going to be. So this is the interview room here that we will be in-“>>Nicole (Interviewee): Formal interviews of victims of sexual assault are normally videoed, because it allows the victim to give their best evidence
and they can also be used as evidence in court.>>Nicole (Detective): “Okay, so just as I said to you before Crystal, we’ve got the camera just on the wall up there, don’t be too worried about that And the microphone here that we just need to be mindful of. In the adjacent room here is Anthony who will be monitoring the interview, okay? Just a couple of other things we need to cover off, today’s date which is-“>>Nicole (Interviewee): The victim will be in the interview room with me where I’ll be listening to their account, and the detective will be in a nearby monitoring room, watching the interview and taking notes.>>Nicole (Detective): “So just take yourself back to that point. And again just think about where you were-“>>Nicole (Interviewee): I tell the victim that it’s important that they tell me everything they can about what’s happened, be it something little or something big, that they do this truthfully and in their own words, and that their welfare while they’re there is important to me, so for whatever reason, if they want to take a break, at any stage, then they just need to let me know because it’s okay to do that.>>Nicole (Detective): “So thanks Crystal for telling me what’s happened to you.
What I’ll get you to do now-“>>Nicole (Interviewee): I try and explain to them that it’s okay to be upset, or to show emotion and to use words that their comfortable with, and just to reassure them I guess that nothing they say will shock or offend me. My role concludes at the end of the interview, but the information gleaned during that process, forms the basis of the investigation. [Background music]

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