Bridge House is a sexual assault referral centre dedicated to dealing with victims of rape and serious sexual assault.
It was established in May this year to provide a dedicated professional service to victims of rape and serious sexual assault. This would enable victims to self refer to a SARC , ensuring that early medical evidence, guidance and support can be provided by independent support workers. This would enable a victim to make an informed choice about reporting the matter to the Police.
DS Karen Warner, who is working closely with other partners on this project said: "The development of a SARC or SARC services would be a positive step for victims of this serious crime in North Yorkshire. It will greatly enhance the progress we have already made and offer victims the best possible support available. This will increase confidence in reporting these crimes to the police."
To find out more about Bridge House and the options that you have then please visit the Bridge House website.
North Yorkshire Police treat all reports of rape and serious sexual assault seriously. Victims will be treated with dignity and respect thorough the process.
North Yorkshire Police has a team of Officers called SOIT level 2 officers (Sexual Offences Investigation Trained) - these officers are specially dedicated and trained officers working across North Yorkshire who deal with victims or rape and serious sexual assault.
DS Karen Warner explains: "The role of the SOIT Officer is to be a single point of contact between the criminal investigation and the victim. This is from the start of an investigation until its conclusion. The officers will gather all available evidence from the victim and provide support and guidance throughout. Each victim's situation and experience will be unique to them. The SOIT Officers can offer advice and guidance on how North Yorkshire Police investigate these crimes. The Officers will, with the consent of the victim liaise with other agencies and refer on to Bridge House to ensure that the victim has the help, information and support that they need."
The SOIT Officers work from 8am to 8pm daily. However, if they are not on duty, North Yorkshire Police have a number of dedicated SOIT Level 1 officers, who are trained to initially attend a report of rape and take an initial account. The case will then be handed onto the SOIT Level 2 officers for all further contact.
Following a report to the police, a control room operator will gather some initial basic information. If a SOIT Level 1 is not on duty, an officer trained in sexual offences will attend and speak with the victim initially. A medical examination maybe required, this is only ever done with a person's consent. The medical examination suites are not at any police stations.
SOIT Officers work with a team of medical professionals who are highly trained and experienced who specialise in supporting victims of sexual assault.
A medical examination can involve the retrieval of forensic medical evidence to aid a police investigation but also allows the opportunity to make referrals for appropriate healthcare.
SOIT officers will also discuss with the person, the best way for them to give their account, this is normally by means of statement or a DVD recording.
The SOIT Officers support the Criminal Investigation Department in the investigation. They also have links with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who have a team of lawyers who specialise in rape and sexual assault cases. A range of special measures can be applied for at Court to enable the victim to give evidence, whilst being protected, from seeing the offender.
In supporting the victim,they can make arrangements for victims to meet with the prosecuting lawyers prior to court case. They also work closely with the witness care units based at courts throughout the county. They will carry out individual needs assessment for anyone required to give evidence at court.
Pre-trial visits can be arranged, giving witnesses the opportunity to look around the courts, meet with the witness service who will look after them throughout court proceedings. This has proved helpful for people who are about to face a court.
All reports of rape and sexual assault are treated seriously by North Yorkshire Police.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted and you require emergency police assistance, call 999 and get to a safe place.
If you are not in immediate danger, to report a rape or sexual assault to the police call 101.
To discuss your options on reporting or to self refer please call Bridge House direct on 01904 669 339. Please leave a message and one of the staff at the centre will return your call.