Steps police should follow when you report rape

It doesn’t matter how old you are, when you’re a victim of a crime, there are certain steps that the police should follow when assisting you with reporting the crime. They are required by the law to treat every victim with respect, empathy, and professionalism. Here are 9 steps that the police should follow when you report rape: 

Sexual Offence Reported

It shouldn’t matter what you are wearing or where you were at the time when the crime occurred. When you report rape, the allegation should be accepted as it is and the police should give you immediate attention and assistance. 

First Officer at the scene and the Investigating Officer’s Duties 

The first Officer has to ensure that the crime scene (and the surrounding area) remains untouched and allow you to give a full description of the suspect. 

The Investigating Officer has to register a case docket in front of an accredited health care practitioner who has to examine you for free. Also, they have to go with you to an accredited health care practitioner and to a place where you’ll feel safe (at a family member’s home, for example).

Medical Examination (Victim)

The medical exam has to be explained clearly to you so that you know what to expect. They will then take the necessary DNA samples like semen (sperm), mouth swabs or hair that might not belong to you, for instance.  

After the medical exam, the healthcare practitioner has to treat you for possible infections, such as HIV, and give you an emergency contraceptive (if you’re a woman) to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

The Victim’s Statement

After the crime has been reported and the medical has been done, the Investigating Officer has to take an in-depth statement about what happened. This step might be traumatising, because you will have to relive the attack, but it’s important to give as much detail as you can so that the police can help you. 

Medical Examination (Suspect)

Once a suspect has been taken into custody, they will also have to be examined by an accredited healthcare provider, because the samples taken from them will help in determining that the right person is to be prosecuted (in other words, put on trial so they can be arrested for the crime).  

Preventing Exhibit Contamination 

Rape is a difficult case to prove because a lot of times, it doesn’t occur in the open where there are witnesses, so it’s usually the victim’s word against the suspect’s. This is why it’s very important for the evidence not to be tampered with. It’s the police’s job to make sure that the evidence is not messed with, so it must be marked and sealed properly.

Identification Parades 

The purpose of an identification parade is for you to identify the suspect(s) that are responsible for the crimes. The importance and purpose of the identification parade should always be explained to you.

Victim Aftercare 

The police should give you information about organisations in your area that offer counselling services so that you can receive help to deal with the trauma.

Assistance to Victim During Court Proceedings

It’s the police’s duty to keep you informed about the case (like bail hearings or court dates). The police should also help you prepare for the court case. For example, if you don’t know where the matter will be heard, the investigating officer has to let you know and arrange for you to meet with the prosecutor who will help with trying to get the suspect arrested. 

I know the process of reporting rape probably sounds like a lot of work, but it is very necessary and important. The police should work with you so that justice can be served. Most importantly, reporting rape will also stop the suspect from violating and hurting someone else. For more in-depth details about the rape reporting process, read here.

Do you have any questions you’d like to ask me? Remember, if you or a friend need help or advice, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).