Rape and sexual offences can have long-lasting psychological impacts on those affected and we work hard to ensure victims are supported.
Investigations into rape and sexual abuse are often lengthy and complex and we cannot underestimate the psychological toll they take on the victims.
In reporting their concerns victims have to relive their trauma. The bravery it takes to come forward is immense.
Our detectives and police staff in our sexual abuse investigation teams who work tirelessly and with great compassion to support and safeguard victims and bring perpetrators of these abhorrent crimes to justice.
The teams work closely with partner agencies to ensure the victims receive the help they need throughout the investigation and beyond. Our officers and staff receive comprehensive training to ensure the victim receives the highest level of support and that they remain at the heart of all we do.
The Child Abuse Investigation Team are a unit of specialist detectives and police support staff who investigate reports of child abuse from physical abuse and neglect through to sexual abuse and death.
The team are provided with specialist training enabling them to deal with the complexities of these investigations, equipping them with the skills required to manage reports of this nature.
As with all our sexual abuse investigation teams, their compassion, sensitivity, policing experience and knowledge ensure that this team are made up of the best people to ensue victims are safe and offenders are brought to justice.
The Adult Sexual Abuse Investigation Team are made up of specialist detectives and police support staff who investigate reports of sexual abuse, where the victim is over the age of 18.
Their specialist training means they are best placed to investigate reports of sexual assault and ensure victims get the support they need and offenders are held accountable for what they have done.
The Police Online Investigation Team, also known as POLIT, are a team of specialist police officers and support staff who investigate offences involving indecent images of children and paedophilia material held on a computer.
The team also undertake proactive work to detect those accessing indecent images of children in Essex.
The Quest Team are a team of specialist detectives and support staff who investigate reports of non-recent child sexual abuse, which happened in Essex, where the suspect was an adult at the time of the abuse and was a family member, person in a position of responsibility or a person of prominence.
Non-recent refers to an investigation where the child sexual abuse has ended at least one year prior to being reported to the police.
The team’s specialist training enables them to support victims with the compassion and sensitivity required in cases of this nature and use their expert knowledge and skills to get justice for victims.
The Child Sexual Exploitation Proactive Investigation Team are made up of police officers and detectives who investigate complex and organised child sexual exploitation.
Child sexual exploitation involves situations, circumstances or relationships in which a person under the age of 18 is given something, such as food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts or money in turn for performing sexual activities or having sexual activities performed on them. It can also involve violence, coercion and intimidation, with threats of physical harm or humiliation.
The team investigation allegations where victims provide accounts of their abuse. They will also proactively pursue and disrupt groups or individuals who seek to sexually exploit children where victim-led investigation can’t be progressed.
Like with all our sexual abuse investigation teams, our officers work with partners to help ensure victims are safe from further harm and provided with the specialist support they require.
Our Management of Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders Team, also known as MOSOVO, reduce the risk posed to the public by registered sex offenders and violent offenders.
The teams work to protect the most vulnerable people by tackling the most dangerous offenders, keeping victims and witnesses at the heart of all they do.
By having specialist teams dedicated to investigating different types of sexual offence we can better support victims.
It means we’re able to give these investigations, which can be complex and lengthy, an increased focus and this year we have seen some really dangerous offenders put behind bars.
Utilising new measures
We are utilising new measures to better protect victims by allowing the evidence of vulnerable victims or witnesses to be pre-recorded at an early stage, before a trial.
This means their recollection of what happened is fresher and they don’t then have to go through the ordeal of giving evidence at an actual trial.
The new measures used in this case, known as Section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, was launched in Essex in August 2020.
The use of this new measure will have real benefits for victims of crime.
It improves the quality of evidence we can put forward to a trial but, more importantly, means a vulnerable victim does not have to go through the ordeal of giving evidence in a court room.
Better quality evidence increases the chance of a conviction, and therefore justice for the victim.
And giving evidence at an actual trial can be a stressful and intimidating prospect, especially for vulnerable victims or witnesses so having this measure in place which means their evidence can be heard without them having to stand up in court means we can better support victims.
Victims are at the heart of everything we do.
Since January 2020, we seek the advice from CPS at a much earlier stage to help develop and progress an investigation in order to increase the chance of a case going to trial.
Closer working at an earlier stage is designed to improve the quality of cases and bring justice far quicker for all concerned.
Supporting and listening to victims
We have recently reviewed and refreshed our Victim’s Code to ensure we are providing them with the best service possible.
This code sets out best practice for supporting victims through an investigation, ensure they are kept up-to-date with its progression, referred to the appropriate support services, and given information about the criminal justice process.
We have also set up a Victim Feedback Panel which is the first of its kind for Essex Police.
Through this panel we listen to the experience of victims to learn what we are doing that is working and what we can improve on.
It also means victims can shape our practices and new processes or training.
It is an excellent example of how we are capturing information from victims for learning and to continuously improve our services.
Here is what some of the people we have helped have said:
"I will be forever grateful to Essex Police for doing everything in their power to collect as much evidence as they could and getting my case to court. They were always a phone call away and they would go out of their way to give me the support I needed."
"From start to finish the support I have had from Essex Police has been good. Offering a listening ear and encouraging me when I wanted to give up. Reminding me that I was the victim That I had not done anything wrong. He had. Essex Police were there with me, with their support, and most of all they believed me. They believed in me and I knew with their help I could get what I was due. Justice. "
"I'm so grateful to Essex Police for their commitment to making sure I got justice, and that I remained safe at all times. I urge anyone suffering from abuse - whether it be physical, emotional, or sexual - to come forward and report these crimes. The support I received was invaluable."
"I don't know where I'd be without you and would definitely encourage other to report to the police."
Two years ago we established the Synergy Essex First Responders (SFRs) scheme which was a first-of-its-kind project.
The programme is the result of partnership work between Essex Police and the Essex rape and sexual abuse partnership Synergy Essex, and is supported by the Essex Police, Fire, and Crime Commissioner.
It gives victims access to support within one working day of reporting an offence to police.
The SFRs can provide emotional support, detailed information about the criminal justice process, and providing access to specialist rape and sexual abuse counselling and advocacy services.
The number of referrals made to victim support services nearly doubled last year and the Ministry of Justice have are interested in it with a view to promoting it as national best practice.
How to report and get support
If you have been a victim of rape or sexual abuse, we would encourage you to seek support. There are a number of charities who support people who have been affected by sexual abuse.
Anyone who would like support but does not wish to speak to police can find a list of organisations on our website advice and information page.
Alternatively you can report completely anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers through their website or by calling 0800 555 111.
Essex Sexual assault referral centre (SARC) offers free support and practical help to anyone in Essex who has experienced sexual violence and/or sexual abuse. If you would like to speak to member of the Essex SARC team, they are available 24/7 on 01277 240620 or you can send them an email.