Do I have to speak to a University Sexual Violence and Misconduct Liaison Officer (SVMLO) before I contact the Police?
No, you can choose to contact the Police at any time. However, if you choose to speak to a SVMLO, they will ensure you have clear, unbiased information on your options. It is important that the decision to report to the Police is made by you. Please read our guidance on naming a perpetrator and risk of harm.
All of the help that you might wish to access e.g. counselling, support with your academic work, or referrals to external support agencies will be available regardless of whether you wish to make a report to the Police.
What will happen if I report sexual violence to the Police?
If you are thinking of reporting to the Police it may be helpful to know the following information:
- Across Scotland, Police Scotland has a network of Sexual Offences Liaison Officers (SOLOs) who are specially trained in responding to sexual offences and who will listen to you with sensitivity.
- Your report will be taken seriously and you will be treated professionally and with respect. You can ask to be interviewed by a female or a male officer.
- As forensic evidence can be easily lost, it is advisable to report the incident as soon as possible to protect your evidence from any time delay. This can mean that you might put the clothes you were wearing into a plastic bag, left unsealed, and try to avoid taking food or drink.
- Even if some time has passed since the incident happened, it is still worth reporting it to the Police. Depending on the time since the incident, some forensic evidence can be detected for a substantial period. A lack of forensic evidence does not necessarily mean that the case cannot proceed.
- It can take several hours to give a statement to the Police, but you can ask for this to be taken in a place where you feel comfortable. You can do this at a Police station or at home. If you would prefer to do this somewhere neutral, a University Sexual Violence and Misconduct Liaison Officer (SVMLO) will be able to help identify somewhere that might make you feel more comfortable.
- After you have given your statement, you may be asked if you are willing to have a medical examination. This would be carried out by a forensic medical examiner. It might be beneficial to ask someone you trust to accompany you for your own comfort.
- If the assault has just happened, it is a good idea to take a change of clothes and shoes to the Police Station as the items you are wearing may be required as evidence. If you change your clothing following an attack, take the clothes you were wearing at the time with you in an open plastic bag. Go to the Rape Crisis website to get more detailed information on what you should do if you have recently been assaulted.
- It is important to understand the implications of filing a Police report in Scotland. Under Scots Law, the decision as to whether or not to proceed with a criminal investigation lies with the Procurator Fiscal rather than with the individual who made the initial report. Therefore, a criminal investigation may go ahead even if the person who made the report withdraws their statement.
You should be aware that police investigations into disclosures of sexual misconduct can take a long time, sometimes spanning months or years. However, the University and external specialist agencies will provide support and guidance to those affected by the incident during the entirety of this period.
If you aren’t sure whether to report to the Police and want to talk through your options, you can speak to a SVMLO or to an independent adviser from an external agency, such as Rape Crisis Scotland or Women’s Aid.
For further details on what to expect from the Police Scotland if you feel you can report a crime of Sexual Violence or Misconduct, please visit the Police Scotland website. On their site you can read information about reporting Sexual Crimes and watch a video which tells you about the process, so you have a better idea of what to expect. If you are in doubt about the process, your SVMLO can contact a local station for further information.
Remember that you have rights under the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014. You can find more information on these rights via the website links below: