NSW Police Force (NSWPF) is launching Operation Vest in response to the recent public petition which detailed thousands of stories of sexual violence and misconduct in our community.
The operation will be coordinated by the State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad who will work closely with commands and districts across the state.
Commander of the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Detective Superintendent Stacey Maloney commended the bravery of the young women prepared to share their stories.
“We must acknowledge the courage it takes victims of sexual violence to come forward and tell their stories,” Det Supt Maloney said.
“Re-telling your story means reliving your trauma, and NSW Police are committed to a framework that supports a victim’s pursuit for justice but also ensures they have access to services that provide the appropriate support.
“We want you to know that if you share your story with us, we will listen to you and if you decide to pursue legal action, immediately or anytime thereafter, we will stand by your side through that process,” she said.
NSW Police provides flexible ways for victims to report a sexual assault. The preferred formal methods are as follows:
1. If the sexual assault has just happened, call Triple Zero and police will come to you.
2. You can telephone your local police station and make an appointment to speak to police at a time suitable for you.
3. You can attend your local police station.
4. If you live outside NSW, attend your police station and make a report. Those police will organise for your case to be transferred to NSW.
5. You can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
This course of action may lead to a criminal investigation if you choose to proceed with the matter.
NSW Police will not pursue a criminal investigation through to the court process without gaining your permission by way of a formal statement.
If the victim chooses not to proceed to the courts, their report informs NSW Police of a potential offender in the community, enabling investigators to be aware of their potential threat while also assisting with future investigations.
“We certainly encourage victims of sexual violence to come forward and report their matters, as their assault may not be isolated,” Det Supt Maloney said.
“Your matter may be connected to other incidents of sexual violence and provide investigators with additional information to prevent perpetrators from reoffending.”
Another option if a person decides not to formally report, is to complete a Sexual Assault Reporting Option (SARO).
A SARO is a questionnaire which enables victims to share their story without formally reporting the matter to police.
The victim can choose to provide their details or report anonymously. This informal report will not initiate a criminal investigation but by completing this questionnaire, the information gathered may be used to help police develop strategies which target offenders, protect the community and reduce repeat offending.
If the SARO report relates to a child or young person under the age of 18 years old, the NSWPF, as mandatory reporters, must notify Community Services through the Child Protection Helpline. A mandatory reporter is a body or organisation that is required to report all risks of significant harm to children in NSW to Community Services.
“We understand that completing this questionnaire may be difficult for victims as they are being asked to remember, in some detail, what happened,” Det Supt Maloney said.
“For victims, if you are seeing a counsellor, it may be useful to talk with them before filling it in so you can prepare a few helpful strategies, such as completing the questionnaire in a place where you feel safe and have some privacy.
For more information on SARO please visit https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/saro.
If you or someone you know is seeking further support, please contact the Victims Access Line on 1800 633 063 or Rape Crisis on 1800 424 017.