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Procedural questions relating to sexual offence cases


RichardL
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I'm writing a novel which involves an alleged rape in central Brighton, East Sussex. It will tell the story of both the victim and the suspect. The novel forms part of a two year Creative Writing course that started in September.  I would like to have more information about the police procedural aspects, so I can write these sections realistically. Ideally, I would speak to a SOIT officer. I'm happy to travel to interview anyone willing to help me (I live in West Sussex), although I'd also be grateful for feedback here.

I've already written the chapter in which the victim attends the police station and goes for forensic examination. If anyone is willing to read this chapter (it's short) and provide feedback on the police procedural aspects, I'd be very happy.

These are the questions I have:

  • How long after the victim reports a rape will the suspect be arrested (where the suspect's identity is known)? Is this typically a period of hours, days or weeks?

  • How many arresting officers will there typically be?

  • Would the arresting officers be the same as the main investigating officers? Would any of the SOIT officers be arresting officers?

  • What actually gets said during the arrest?

  • When and where does the suspect speak to a Duty Solicitor? How long do they usually have together?

  • Where does the first police interview of the suspect take place? What does the room look like and what equipment does it have?

  • Who participates in the first interview?

  • What happens during the first interview?

  • How does the suspect give up his phone? Does he have to? Does he get it back? If so when? Does he get his SIM card back?

  • Is the suspect required to give samples? How is this done? How is an intimate sample taken?

  • What are the rules for the suspect regarding contact with the victim? How are these rules communicated? Is there a leaflet or pamphlet for the suspect?

  • How much bail is required (in this case the suspect is a student without much funds)? What is the bail process? How does the accused post bail? What are the bail conditions typically?

  • When does the victim give up her phone? Does she have to? When does she get it back? Can she get the SIM card back straight away?

  • Will the police publicise the case in any way? How does press generally get to hear about cases?

There's no set deadline, but I'm happy for this post to be removed on 1 November 2019.

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1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • How long after the victim reports a rape will the suspect be arrested (where the suspect's identity is known)? Is this typically a period of hours, days or weeks?

Dependent on the circumstances, specifically how much time has elapsed. Within the forensic window, which is several days, a swift arrest would allow for the recovery of forensic specimens from the suspect through swabs, nail scrapings etc. 

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • How many arresting officers will there typically be?

  • Would the arresting officers be the same as the main investigating officers? Would any of the SOIT officers be arresting officers?

Again, depends. If it's a quick time job or it's been disclosed after a domestic or the offender is known to be a handful then there might be a few uniformed officers - if there's also a scene to be searched that might be done by anywhere from a couple of detectives to a full search team of six or eight plus a scribe. If it's a slow-time arrest later in the investigation there might be a couple of detectives from the rape team. The SOIT officer taking the disclosure and seizing clothing from the victim shouldn't be present for cross-contamination reasons if forensics are a likely opportunity.

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • What actually gets said during the arrest?

They ought to be told that they're under arrest on suspicion of rape, cautioned and given some brief grounds and necessity for the arrest, but there won't be many details disclosed at this stage.

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • When and where does the suspect speak to a Duty Solicitor? How long do they usually have together?

At the police station once they've been booked in, when one gets there. How long is a piece of string, depends on how complex it is and if they're preparing a statement for the interview.

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • Where does the first police interview of the suspect take place? What does the room look like and what equipment does it have?

Again, that's a decision for the OIC. They might want to interview more than once, to get a brief suspect agenda first and then challenge it more robustly in a subsequent interview, or they might get everything together and do it all in one. The room will be small and pokey with a table, chairs, a CD or tape recorder and possibly CCTV, you can google for what it looks like or watch some 24hrs in police custody. 

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • Who participates in the first interview?

  • What happens during the first interview?

Detectives from a rape or serious sexual offences investigation team. In the first interview they'll want an account but much beyond that is situation dependent.

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • How does the suspect give up his phone? Does he have to? Does he get it back? If so when? Does he get his SIM card back?

It'd be taken off him and seized when he's arrested, whether he likes it or not, and probably examined using whatever phone examination capability the force has. This can take anything from under an hour to twelve months or more depending on what's needed and what the force backlog is.

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • Is the suspect required to give samples? How is this done? How is an intimate sample taken?

If it's within the forensic window, then the OIC might ask an inspector for authority to take intimate samples under S62 PACE. Thankfully I've never had to swab someone's penis so I'll pass on that question, but since neither will most of your audience you can probably use some poetic licence based on a quick google or just skim over the details. 

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • What are the rules for the suspect regarding contact with the victim? How are these rules communicated? Is there a leaflet or pamphlet for the suspect?

 

If they're released under investigation then beyond the offence of witness intimidation there's no rule preventing contact. If they're bailed or charged and released they may well have bail conditions not to contact the victim at all, which would be given to them on their bail sheet. 

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • How much bail is required (in this case the suspect is a student without much funds)? What is the bail process? How does the accused post bail? What are the bail conditions typically?

We don't take bail bonds in this country. They might be bailed either to come back to the police station at a later date, to allow for further police enquiries or for CPS advice, or charged and bailed to attend court. Bail conditions depend on the circumstances, they'll probably include a requirement to live and sleep at a given address, not to contact prosecution witnesses directly or indirectly and potentially a restriction on going to certain places such as the street the victim lives for example.

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • When does the victim give up her phone? Does she have to? When does she get it back? Can she get the SIM card back straight away?

If a phone examination is necessary then detectives would ask for this later in the investigation. Good practice would be to give it back quickly, not least so the victim isn't left without any means of contacting the police, but again in the real world these things just depend.

1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • Will the police publicise the case in any way? How does press generally get to hear about cases?

How the press find out about things is a mystery sometimes, but I gather that a lot of what appears in the newspaper are statements prepared in case a journalist rings the media office asking about a given incident in which case they'll be told. The bulk of what goes on never appears in the news unless it's fairly high-profile. 

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1 hour ago, RichardL said:
  • How long after the victim reports a rape will the suspect be arrested (where the suspect's identity is known)? Is this typically a period of hours, days or weeks?

  • as soon as possible if the crime is within forensic deadlines (7 days IIRC) and even outside that time you'd want to arrest quickly in order to get seize clothing or phones, or just to protect the public if it is a stranger rape.

  • How many arresting officers will there typically be?

  • At least 2 and possible more if a search is needed.  

  • Would the arresting officers be the same as the main investigating officers? Would any of the SOIT officers be arresting officers?

  • Not necessarily. I'm sure SOIT they are capable of making their own arrests but its sometimes more convenient to get response officers to make an arrest over night so that the suspect is in custody when the shift starts in the morning.  

  • What actually gets said during the arrest?

  • I'm arresting you on suspicion of rape  which took place on xxx, caution, and the necessity i.e. for a prompt an effective investigation.  I have never heard or seen the necessity test being used in any book, TV show or film but it should be said for every offence.

  • When and where does the suspect speak to a Duty Solicitor? How long do they usually have together?

  • Post arrest but when in custody pre interview by phone although its normally face to face.  The oic will give the solicitor pre interview disclosure and once that is done the solicitor will speak to the suspect face to face and tell them what the police have disclosed.  That is normally done in the same interview room as the interview.  Disclosure can be done in one hit or it can be phased  over a course of different interviews.

  • Where does the first police interview of the suspect take place? What does the room look like and what equipment does it have?

  • In custody unless an urgent interview is needed.  Most interview rooms are about 2.5m square windowless boxes with a table, recording kit, alarms, chairs and sometimes cameras if the interview is to be video recorded.  There is never any one way glass and there is never a PC outside guarding the room until the OIC is ready.  The interview can be monitored remotely but the suspect needs to be told if that is the case.

  • Who participates in the first interview?

  • suspect, solicitor (if the suspect wants one ), appropriate adult if required, interpreter if required and one or two interviewing officers.
  •  
  • What happens during the first interview?
  • The suspect gets interviewed!  The lead officer will have an interview plan to follow and will stick to that as much as possible. They will have topic boxes and each time they finish a topic they will summarise  whats been said.  The second officer generally takes notes and can ask questions if they think the lead officer has missed something.  
  • How does the suspect give up his phone? Does he have to? Does he get it back? If so when? Does he get his SIM card back?

  • The phone is seized as evidence as soon as police find it and it gets returned at some point in the future.

  • Is the suspect required to give samples? How is this done? How is an intimate sample taken?

  • Yes if authorised by an Inspector and agreed by the suspect. These are taken by a nurse and are swabs from various parts of the penis in the case of a male suspect.

  • What are the rules for the suspect regarding contact with the victim? How are these rules communicated? Is there a leaflet or pamphlet for the suspect?

  • They'd normally be either bailed with conditions not to contact them or if charged they may be remanded in custody for the courts to sort out conditions if they release them.

  • How much bail is required (in this case the suspect is a student without much funds)? What is the bail process? How does the accused post bail? What are the bail conditions typically?

  • Bail is now a pain and not that straight forward. It starts at 28 days then can be extended up to 3 months by a superintendent, then magistrates get involved beyond 3 months.  Sending a file to the CPS stops the clock.

  • When does the victim give up her phone? Does she have to? When does she get it back? Can she get the SIM card back straight away?

  • That is voluntary.

  • Will the police publicise the case in any way? How does press generally get to hear about cases?

  • Post charge they can name the suspect but pre charge they can make witness appeals.

 


  • Survey Close Date 1 November 2019

I'm not SOIT but I am a DC and have some knowledge however  so I'll accept it if  if someone with more knowledge comes along and contradicts me .

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On 01/10/2019 at 14:00, RichardL said:

I'm writing a novel which involves an alleged rape in central Brighton, East Sussex. It will tell the story of both the victim and the suspect. The novel forms part of a two year Creative Writing course that started in September.  I would like to have more information about the police procedural aspects, so I can write these sections realistically. Ideally, I would speak to a SOIT officer. I'm happy to travel to interview anyone willing to help me (I live in West Sussex), although I'd also be grateful for feedback here.

I've already written the chapter in which the victim attends the police station and goes for forensic examination. If anyone is willing to read this chapter (it's short) and provide feedback on the police procedural aspects, I'd be very happy.

These are the questions I have:

  • How long after the victim reports a rape will the suspect be arrested (where the suspect's identity is known)? Is this typically a period of hours, days or weeks?

As soon as practicable, especially if there are forensic opportunities 

  • How many arresting officers will there typically be?

  • Depends but no less than 2 usually 

  • Would the arresting officers be the same as the main investigating officers? Would any of the SOITs officers be arresting officers?

  • The OIC can be the arresting officer, SOITs shouldn’t be used to arrest, if the case is historic they may choose to if the SOiT is also the OIC. But this isn’t best practice. If there is a forensic element the SOIT won’t have contact with the suspect until all the forensic aspects have been covered . The SOIT role takes a long time so to do both is impractical 

  •  

  • What actually gets said during the arrest?

  • When and where does the suspect speak to a Duty Solicitor? How long do they usually have together?

  • Where does the first police interview of the suspect take place? What does the room look like and what equipment does it have?

  • Who participates in the first interview?

  • What happens during the first interview?

  • How does the suspect give up his phone? Does he have to? Does he get it back? If so when? Does he get his SIM card back?

  • suspects don’t get a choice, phones are seized and retained until the conclusion of the legal proceeding. No they won’t get their SIM card 

  • Is the suspect required to give samples? How is this done? How is an intimate sample taken?

  • What are the rules for the suspect regarding contact with the victim? How are these rules communicated? Is there a leaflet or pamphlet for the suspect?

  • How much bail is required (in this case the suspect is a student without much funds)? What is the bail process? How does the accused post bail? What are the bail conditions typically?

  • When does the victim give up her phone? Does she have to? When does she get it back? Can she get the SIM card back straight away?

  • victims do not have to surrender their phones 

  • Will the police publicise the case in any way? How does press generally get to hear about cases?

There's no set deadline, but I'm happy for this post to be removed on 1 November 2019.


  • Survey Close Date 1 November 2019

 

Edited by Ether
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1 hour ago, Ether said:

How long after the victim reports a rape will the suspect be arrested

For some it's been decades!

 

1 hour ago, Ether said:

How many arresting officers will there typically be?

Probably two to arrest and take to custody. There would also be a team to search his home, vehicle, crime scene(s) etc to seize:

▪clothing worn at the time as described by the victim and/or witnesses and/or CCTV

▪any weapons, restraints, disguises, drugs, alcohol, sex toys, condoms, lubricants, cameras, bedding or anything else used in connection with the rape, its preparation or aftermath

▪ any trophies, souvenirs or memorabilia taken by the offender such as knickers, jewellery, driving licence or other photo ID

It's preferable for a CSI, SOCO in old money, to attend to ensure the forensic integrity of the exhibits and to properly preserve any trace evidence, especially DNA and possibly fibre exchange, for examination by a scientist at one of many Forensic Service Providers. (If you want to know how NOT to do this Google the murder of Meredith Kercher)

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On 01/10/2019 at 14:00, RichardL said:

I'm writing a novel which involves an alleged rape in central Brighton, East Sussex. It will tell the story of both the victim and the suspect. The novel forms part of a two year Creative Writing course that started in September.  I would like to have more information about the police procedural aspects, so I can write these sections realistically. Ideally, I would speak to a SOIT officer. I'm happy to travel to interview anyone willing to help me (I live in West Sussex), although I'd also be grateful for feedback here.

I've already written the chapter in which the victim attends the police station and goes for forensic examination. If anyone is willing to read this chapter (it's short) and provide feedback on the police procedural aspects, I'd be very happy.

These are the questions I have:

  • How long after the victim reports a rape will the suspect be arrested (where the suspect's identity is known)? Is this typically a period of hours, days or weeks?

  • How many arresting officers will there typically be?

  • Would the arresting officers be the same as the main investigating officers? Would any of the SOIT officers be arresting officers? 

  • What actually gets said during the arrest?

  • When and where does the suspect speak to a Duty Solicitor? How long do they usually have together?

  • Where does the first police interview of the suspect take place? What does the room look like and what equipment does it have?

  • Who participates in the first interview?

  • What happens during the first interview?

  • How does the suspect give up his phone? Does he have to? Does he get it back? If so when? Does he get his SIM card back?

  • Is the suspect required to give samples? How is this done? How is an intimate sample taken?

  • What are the rules for the suspect regarding contact with the victim? How are these rules communicated? Is there a leaflet or pamphlet for the suspect?

  • How much bail is required (in this case the suspect is a student without much funds)? What is the bail process? How does the accused post bail? What are the bail conditions typically?

  • When does the victim give up her phone? Does she have to? When does she get it back? Can she get the SIM card back straight away?

  • Will the police publicise the case in any way? How does press generally get to hear about cases?

There's no set deadline, but I'm happy for this post to be removed on 1 November 2019.


  • Survey Close Date 1 November 2019

I'm not sure if you are interested in any part of the custody process but should you be there is a handy guide about what to expect when in custodyhttps://www.gov.uk/arrested-your-rights#targetText=The police must explain this,may be given in evidence.” it mainly covers your rights, entitlements and what the police procedures are. 

One thing to note that is if you are being arrested for an offence where intimate samples (such as rape, murder) etc would be required then the suspect would be placed in a dry cell, which is a cell without toilet or sink and would have to be monitored eating and drinking so as to stop any further potential forensic evidence being lost. Intimate samples include blood, urine, pubic hair, tissue fluid, and dental impression, swabs taken from the person’s genitals or from any bodily orifice except for the mouth. PACE dictates that the taking of an intimate sample must be authorised by a senior officer (at least the rank of inspector) and the suspect must consent. The samples will be taken from a nurse or doctor that will be based within the custody suite or can be transferred in from another suite if required. Once said samples have been taken then the suspect would likely be moved to a cell with a toilet and sink. 

Hope this helps. 

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10 hours ago, Billy Blue Tac said:

There would also be a team to search his home, vehicle, crime scene(s) etc

Don't forget they will need:

▪a briefing to identify roles and to set the search parameters 

▪an authority to search - probably s.8 warrant or s.18/s.32 PACE

▪a 5WH record of the search (who, when, where, what, why and how)

This is just a taster of the potential paperwork created just from the search; all of which is to be recorded and retained in a durable and retrievable format, and then scheduled by the Disclosure Officer, to comply with CPIA1996.

Real life is nothing like the telly

Edited by Billy Blue Tac
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