Cumbria Constabulary have stepped up their efforts to ensure that awareness of the support on offer for victims of serious sexual offences is there for those who have been affected in our region.

An innovative social media surgery was held yesterday to raise awareness on the support services available to victims of rape and serious sexual offences.

On Monday 30 November, an hour-long social media surgery was held on Cumbria Police’s Facebook page. The surgery provided members of the public the opportunity to ask any questions they may have on rape and sexual offences, the support available to victims and how they can report information or their concerns.

Practitioners from various safeguarding agencies, including Cumbria Police, The Bridgeway, Victim Support, The Birchall Trust and SafetyNet were on hand to answer the public’s questions as well as promote information on the work being done to protect the public.

Detective Chief Inspector Jenny Beattie, Cumbria Constabulary’s lead officer for Rape and Serious Sexual Offences, said:

“The social media surgery provided us and our trusted partner agencies an opportunity to directly engage with the public on issues relating to rape and serious sexual offences.

“Sadly, anyone can be the victim of a rape or sexual assault. Any individual who is victim to any sexual offence may find the incident deeply traumatic and the consequences can often last with them for the rest of their lives. The impact these offences have are the reason we have been proactive in engaging with the public to provide them with relevant information which can better inform any decisions they make for themselves or for people that they have concerns for.

“The consequences of such incidents are far-reaching with families and the wider community often impacted. Therefore, it is crucial that we all work together to support victims who have been subjected to any form of sexual abuse.

“I would encourage anyone who has been victim to rape or any sexual offence to please report this to police. Our officers are experienced and specially trained to investigate these offences as well as provide a victim the appropriate support.”

The surgery follows a month-line campaign which has provided clear guidance on the issue of consent as well as highlighting the support available to victims. In a first of its kind, a video showcasing the processes undertaken at a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) was produced to provide victims with more information on the support they will receive. For more information please visit Cumbria Police’s website.