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LEGAL GUIDE: Reporting Sexual Crimes to the Police

Over the past year, movements such as #MeToo and #Time's Up have reminded us all of the need for further resources for women who have experienced sexual crimes. At the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre, we often hear that the process of reporting sexual crimes can be challenging and confusing. What should I expect when reporting rape or other types of sexual crimes to the police in Scotland? What are my rights? In order to answer these questions, we are proud to launch our latest legal guide - Reporting Sexual Crimes: Your Rights.

This guide aims to provide accessible information on the process of reporting a sexual crime to the police, and outlines the basic rights that you are entitled to. The choice of reporting or not reporting a sexual crime is always a personal one. Many victim-survivors choose not to report, for a wide variety of reasons. It is also possible to report after a significant period of time has passed since the incident - historic crimes can also be investigated. If you do choose to report, knowing your rights and how to seek support through the process are two vital tools to access justice. These tools are what this guide aims to provide for victim-survivors.

Read the leaflet online in full here and find out more about:

  • What crimes are covered by the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009
  • What responsibilities do the police have that relate to my complaint?
  • What happens if I choose to make a statement?
  • What happens if I don’t want to continue with the process after I’ve made a report?
  • What can I do if I’m not satisfied with the process?
  • Where can I find additional support from agencies other than the police?

Remember that there are many agencies that can provide additional support when reporting sexual crimes. These include Rape Crisis Scotland and their National Advocacy Service, which can provide you with a worker who will support you through the criminal justice process from start to finish. Our helpline is also available for further legal advice.

The SWRC will continue to work to close the gap between women’s experience of gender-based violence, such as sexual crimes, and their access to justice. Keep an eye out for future legal guides and resources!

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