As the ‘rape shatters lives, there is no excuse′ campaign continues, we take a look at the Dedicated Rape Unit who are based within Cheshire Police, their role in dealing with rape victims and sexual offenders and the impact that they have had since their formation, with a 38% increase in rapes reported during the period from October 2011 to September 2012.
The Dedicated Rape Unit team consists of one Detective Inspector, three Detective Sergeants and 19 Constables. The Crown Prosecution Service has also provided two specialist lawyers and two paralegal officers who work within the rape unit. They work alongside the investigating officers and provide advice in relation to the direction of rape cases and their outcome.
Cheshire Police created a Dedicated Rape Unit which was in place by 19th September 2011 and which is led by a Detective Inspector. The Dedicated Rape Unit deals with 70% of all Rape and Sexual Offences. However, some cases are passed over to specialist officers from the Public Protection Unit. During this time, the unit has worked closely with the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) and the Sexual Abuse Referral Centre (SARC) based at St Mary′s Hospital in Manchester to provide that much needed support to victims.
Under the old system - when a Dedicated Rape Unit wasn′t in place - cases would go to the CID and be dealt with alongside other work loads. They didn′t have the Crown Prosecution Service working with them or as close links to St Mary′s or RASASC and the officers couldn′t dedicate sufficient time to cases despite their need to prioritise any rape cases. The DRU was set up because there was a concern with the number of cases reported and crimed and they wanted to give more time and care to the victim.
The introduction of a Dedicated Rape Unit has meant that there is a much simpler method in which victims can speak to officers, the officers can meet the needs of victims and have a support mechanism in place to provide counselling and advice. The DRU can spend more time on the cases with specialised officers on hand, who are trained to deal with serious sexual assaults. It also stops the victim being passed over to different people dealing with the case, so that one officer is assigned to each case.
Adam Waller, Detective Sergeant in the Dedicated Rape Unit commented that "Rape is hugely under-reported to the Police and nationally we do not know the true extent of the crime. With the advent of the Dedicated Rape Unit, victims of rape in Cheshire will hopefully be reassured that they can come forwards and be treated with respect and dignity. In addition, through our close links with Independent Sexual Violence Advisors we will ensure that the relevant support will be put in place in order to help the victim."
You can read more about the rape campaign at www.cheshire.police.uk.