Kent Police and the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner are supporting Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.
The week takes place from 6 to the 12 February and highlights the issues around understanding consent and the importance and encouragement of reporting assaults.
The force recently ran a social media campaign providing extra advice and support surrounding sexual offences. It was designed to remind people of the risks and what is right and what is wrong.
In 2016 Kent Police’s public protection unit received 1,584 reports of rape, and a further 2,667 sexual offences.
Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Moss from the force’s public protection unit said: 'No consent means no sex. We take all allegations of sexual assault extremely seriously and people are treated in confidence. We encourage people to report offences at the earliest opportunity. Our specially trained officers will work with the victim and put them in touch with others, including Family Matters, so that together we can help them work through this kind of traumatic experience.
'Sexual assault or violence ruins lives. It has devastating and often long-lasting consequences not only for the victims, but also their families and loved ones. Those convicted of offences can face lengthy jail terms along with being placed on the national sex offenders register for life.'
Kent Police has a special interview suite, which contain comfortable rooms where people who have reported a rape can talk with trained officers; specialist facilities for medical examinations; as well as somewhere to wash and shower.
A specially trained officer will explain what could happen next and go through any necessary procedures, such as making a statement about what has happened.
People reporting a sexual assault will be asked if they agree to a medical examination to ensure any forensic evidence can be gathered.
Recent examples of successful investigations into rape and sexual offences include:
- An 80 year-old man who had raped and abused children over a period spanning more than 30 years was in January 2017 convicted of the offences and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
- A 75 year-old man responsible for abusing children over four decades was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison when he appeared before Maidstone Crown Court in January 2017.
- In December 2016 a 22 year-old man from Surrey was sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of raping a woman at a flat in Margate.
- A man who raped and viciously assaulted a woman in Chatham was jailed for 11 years. He was arrested in April 2016 and during the investigation similar offences came to light. He denied the offences but was convicted and sentenced in October 2016.
DCI Moss added: 'The length of sentences in these examples show that, no matter the length of time since the offence was committed, we will do our very best to ensure that cases are put before the courts, who support us with significant sentences against sexual offenders.'
Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott said: ‘Protecting vulnerable people from harm is a guiding principle of my new Safer in Kent Plan and I’m backing Kent Police’s ongoing campaign to highlight issues of sexual consent. Everyone - old and young, men and women and the LGBT community - needs to understand "it’s not OK” and that that "no” means no.
'Where abuse does occur, it is important that victims have access to the support they need so I’ve set aside £200,000 to commission local sexual assault support services to provide Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) and Child Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ChISVAs) from April.
'There is another £500,000 available to provide more specialist support services to victims of crime, including adult and child victims of sexual abuse and violence. Charities and community groups can begin bidding for some of that money this week.'