/ Talon: Tackling Rape and Sexual Crime

Greater Manchester Police is committed to tackling rape and sexual assault by supporting victims and bringing offenders to justice.

Greater Manchester is nationally recognised as a model of good practice in terms of support services available to victims, and GMP’s campaign, code-named Talon, aims to continually improve the support services offered to victims of this crime.

If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, we encourage you not to suffer in silence and report it to the police or a support agency so you can get the help and support available. You can call Greater Manchester Police on 101, or alternatively people can refer themselves to St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0161 276 6515. See links below for the contact details of further support agencies.

We understand it is your decision whether to report it and it is one you shouldn’t be pushed into, but it is important to remember that the sooner the assault is reported, the more evidence we will be able to collect to help prevent you or someone else being hurt again.

If you do decide to make a report, we will do everything we can to make sure you and your family receive the best possible care and support. Your welfare is our priority and we have 900 specially trained officers working on a 24-hour basis to offer advice and support to victims.

What is Talon?

Talon is the process put in place by Greater Manchester Police to monitor and respond more effectively to incidents of rape and sexual assaults.

It ensures that specially trained officers follow a specific set of standards and procedures when investigating sexual crimes so that victims are supported throughout the criminal justice process and offenders are caught and brought to justice.

Furthermore, Talon draws on the expertise of staff from partner agencies, including St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Survivors Manchester and Rape Crisis, who play a vital part in helping the Force to investigate and detect these crimes, along with ensuring that a professional response is provided to all victims. 

Reporting Rape

Rape is a dreadful and life changing crime we would encourage you to tell us about.

We understand this is your decision and one you shouldn’t be pushed into but it’s important to remember that the sooner the assault is reported, the more evidence we’ll be able to collect to help prevent you or someone else being hurt again.

If you do decide to make a report, we will do everything we can to make sure you and your family receive the best possible care and support.

Calling the police is your decision to make but we understand that not knowing what to expect may be frightening.
We’re not here to tell you what to do but hope the information is both reassuring and useful whether you’ve suffered a sexual assault or are trying to help a partner, friend or relative.

First Contact

Our first concern is your safety so if the incident has just happened and you contact us by phone, our call handler will stay on the line until a police officer arrives.

Trained Officers

We have a team of specially trained officers who will do everything in their power to treat you and your family with care and sensitivity throughout any investigation, court proceedings and beyond.

They will be open, honest, do their best to minimise trauma and offer support for as long as you would like. If you’ve been raped, please remember it’s not your fault. Regardless of what you might have been wearing, how much you’d had to drink or who was involved, we will never treat any type of rape as more or less serious than any other.

One of our specially trained officers will visit you wherever you feel most comfortable.

The officer will accompany you at all times unless you choose otherwise and explain the whole process but please don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’re here to help and can make arrangements for a friend or family member to be with you if you would like them to.

Early Evidence

Sometimes the officer may use what we call an early evidence kit. This is nothing to worry about, it’s just a small box containing a mouth swab and a pot to collect a urine sample in. Evidence can be lost by brushing your teeth, eating, drinking or going to the toilet. The early evidence kit helps us collect this evidence quickly.

First Account

At this time the officer will take a more detailed account of what has happened which you will be asked to read and sign. We call this a first account.

Although initially you may find it embarrassing to discuss intimate details, our experienced officers will do their best to put you at ease, and please remember they are used to these types of conversation and will remain professional at all times.

It’s important to be truthful. No one will judge you if you had been drinking or taking drugs before the assault but it’s important to let the officer know as it may change the way the account is taken and alert officers that you could need urgent medical attention.

Never be frightened to ask questions, explain things in your own words or ask for a break if you feel you need one.

Sexual Assault Referral Centre

If you have been raped we recommend that you attend a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). In Manchester this is located near to the University. It is a Health Service facility specifically designed to look after people who have been raped and sexually assaulted. It has a worldwide reputation for excellence. If you report rape to the police we will arrange for you to attend the SARC if you agree.

This process is designed to get you the help you need and to obtain forensic evidence in order to assist with the investigation. This process is conducted by a Forensic Doctor at the centre and whilst it is purely optional it is recommended not only for the examination but also for other benefits such as STI testing, and Anti HIV medication.  You will also be seen by a crisis worker who can support you through this process and offer you immediate support and advice. Each step of the process is explained and your consent to conduct the exam is required. 

After the examination you will be told about the support available to you. This includes an independent sexual violence advisor (ISVA) to support you through the investigation, help access other services and support you should the case progress to a trial at court..St Marys can also offer counselling services which may afford victims a qualified point of contact and someone to speak to about the impact of the assault and help you to cope with the immediate impact and ways to help you cope.

If you prefer a male ISVA or counsellor St. Mary’s wqill refer you to Survivors Manchester for this support as they have a specialist male workers to provide a similar support and counselling.

Making a Statement

Making a formal statement to the Police can be done in two different ways.  This can be done in the form of a statement where you explain to the officer the circumstances in detail and they write this information down.  At the  end of which you will be asked to read and sign the statement.

The alternative and often preferred method is by way of Video Interview or (ABE – Achieve Best Evidence)  This procedure often takes place at a Police Station and is conducted in a Video Interview Suite.

This is a room specially adapted with microphones and cameras.  In the room will be yourself and a specially trained interviewing officer.  Although a formal procedure it is made to be as relaxed as possible, you will be asked to explain to the officer in your own words what has happened, They will ask you relevant questions to obtain as much detail as possible.  It is important you try to recall as much information as possible. A video interview would allow for special measure (Evidence in chief – further information below)

It is your choice which is your preferred option and in either case the information you provide will help officers with their investigations and may be used later in court.

Special Measures

Victims of Sexual Related Offences are afforded ‘Special Measures’ Under S.16 & S.17 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act. 

As this type of victim you are automatically afforded the right to Special Measures.  Special Measures are a series of measures which may make the court procedure easier for witnesses, they include:

  • Evidence in Private - The court can be cleared of anyone not directly involved in the case ie public gallery, press, etc.
  • Removal of wigs and gowns - Barristers, Judges, Clerks and Ushers when in court wear formal wigs and gowns.  In some circumstances these can be removed if this is likely to benefit a witness.
  • Intermediary - People with learning difficulties may benefit from being accompanied to court by an intermediary.
  • Evidence In Chief - If as mentioned earlier, if a video interview is taken this is played to the court and prevents the witness having to explain the circumstances within a court room.  From the video interview they are then asked questions which is referred to as cross examination.
  • TV Link - This would be where a witness would be in a separate room within the court building but away from the court room.  You would communicate with the court via the video link similar to a video call.  This option allows you to provide your evidence without having to enter the court room.
  • Screens - Screens can be erected at the side of the witness box whilst a witness gives evidence.  This allows only the Judge, Jury and Barrister to see the witness and the witness is therefore hidden from the defendant. 

Attending court and given evidence can be a very worrying and intimidating time.  We will do everything we can to ensure things are made as easy as possible.  We can arrange for a pre trial court visits so you attend at court a few weeks before your trial so you can see the layout and familiarise yourself with where everyone involved in the trial would sit.

Talon logoAnonymity

If you’re worried about being identified, you don’t need to be. The law protects you from this by giving anonymity to victims of sexual attacks for their lifetime.

No information likely to lead to your identification as a victim can be published. This includes your name, address, photograph, school, workplace or any other details that could cause you to be identified.

It is also possible for you to report matters to Police and remain anonymous, this is a way of you telling the Police of something that has happened to you for us to be aware whilst your details are not recorded.  In these circumstances it would be unlikely we would be able to successfully prosecute any individuals but it may be information we are able to act upon.

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