Bedfordshire Police shines a light on sexual abuse and sexual violence as part of awareness week

Bedfordshire Police shines a light on sexual abuse and sexual violence as part of awareness week

This week, Bedfordshire Police is embracing the UK’s national week of awareness for sexual abuse and violence. This gives organisations and individuals the chance to talk openly about this subject, and victims the opportunity to seek help.

The resounding message of “Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week” is that ‘it’s not OK’, and that all forms of sexual abuse or violence are unacceptable.

This all-inclusive national campaign, backed by major national social media, is strengthened by the participation of several leading charities. These can offer help and support to those are experiencing, or who have experienced, sexual abuse or violence, regardless of ethnicity, gender, identity, age, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

Bedfordshire Police’s specialist unit – Emerald – investigates sexual offences, rape and domestic abuse.

Detective Inspector Craig Laws, Emerald’s lead for rape and sexual offences, said:

“We have already seen sexual offences making national headlines this year, with the media spotlight falling on how forces investigate such crimes, and the support that is offered to victims.

“We will always continue to raise awareness about sexual abuse and violence, and encourage victims to report to us, but we cannot emphasise strongly enough, the message to offenders is that is no means no.

“And that message is for anyone, of any gender, who targets someone in a sexually motivated crime.

“We will fully investigate all reports and, along with our partners, provide victims with appropriate specialist support.”

Detective Chief Inspector Marie Gresswell, head of the force’s Child and Vulnerable Adult Abuse team, said:

“Being a victim of sexual abuse is an extremely distressing experience for a child to go through; being forced or persuaded into taking part in sexual activities by an adult.

“The act doesn’t have to be physical and can happen online too, which is why we want to stress to parents how important it is to educate children on how to keep themselves safe from abuse and how they can protect themselves online.

“We work hard to tackle child sexual abuse and would urge anyone who has any concerns that a child is being sexually abused, to come forward and tell us.

“If you have been a victim of child sexual abuse yourself, please know it is never too late to report it to us, no matter how long ago it was.

“You will be listened to, you will be supported, and we will endeavour to do all we can to seek justice for you.”

For more information on Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, visit the It’s not OK website

Victims of rape and sexual assault can receive support and guidance from Bedfordshire Police and its partner agencies, including the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), as well as support through the criminal investigation process.

You can also contact the Signpost Hub for free and confidential support, whether the crime has been reported or not. The Signpost Hub’s experienced staff and volunteers know what emotions and challenges victims may be going through. They are specially trained to listen and give help and advice.

Signpost Hub works with a range of specialist organisations and community support groups and can make referrals to help victims on their journey. The Hub puts victims at the heart of everything it does. It can provide support to victims, irrespective of when the crime took place.

Victim care coordinators will also discuss the benefits of restorative justice. This gives victims the opportunity to tell the offender about the real impact the crime they committed has had on them.

For further information or to get in contact visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com/hub.

Reports can be made to police on 101, or via Bedfordshire Police’s online reporting tool.

You can also contact Bedfordshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) the Emerald Centre, by visiting www.emeraldcentre.org, emailing info@emeraldcentre.org or calling 01234 897052.

The NSPCC website has a wealth of information, support and advice on how to teach your child about staying safe from sexual abuse.

Always call 999 in an emergency.

Join the campaign on Facebook or Twitter. #itsnotok