Reporting sexual offences
Release date: Fri 13 May 2016
Last updated: Tue 15 August 2017
Do I have to report? What can I do?
Sexual offences are an underreported crime. Victims / survivors of sexual offences experience a range of feelings and reactions, and many people do not report sexual offences due to emotions such as fear, shame and self-blame. Concerns about reprisals, medical and legal procedures, social attitudes and responses from family and friends may prevent someone from seeking the help they need.
Sexual Offences and Child Investigation Teams (SOCIT)
SOCIT are staffed by experienced and qualified police members specially trained to respond to and investigate sexual offences and child abuse.
Reporting a sexual offence to police is a significant step. Police will explain to you the investigation process and the alternate options available to help you make a decision.
What happens if I don't want to report? Do I have to report?
We understand it can be difficult to report your experience to us. Making the decision to report sexual offences is an important personal choice. In reaching that decision, you may wish to seek advice and guidance from others. You can withdraw from the process at any time.
Telling us about your experience does not mean that we will always commence an investigation. The decision as to whether or not to conduct a formal investigation will be discussed with you and the circumstances of your particular offence will always be taken into account. It may be that police conduct a formal investigation or we take and record your information and take no further action.
Regardless of the investigation decision, telling us about the sexual offences is important. The information you provide can enable us to assess your safety and ensure you and others around you remain safe. It means we can help solve previous sexual offences that have been reported or are later reported, we can identify serial sexual perpetrators and we can prevent further victims. It also means we can provide you with the support and ongoing assistance that you may need.
Delays in reporting a sexual offence to police are not uncommon. Our detectives often investigate offences that are reported weeks, months and even years after an offence has occurred. You are encouraged to report regardless of when the incident occurred.
What happens after I decide to report a sexual offence?
The primary role of Victoria Police is to investigate offences and apprehend offenders. Sexual offence investigations are conducted by specialised detectives trained in the investigation of sexual offences. Your investigation will be handled by a primary investigator who will be your main point of contact.
We will first consider your immediate medical needs and take steps to ensure you are safe. We will offer you support from a Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) . If your sexual offence has occurred recently, we may encourage you to undertake a forensic medical examination at a Crisis Care Unit, where you will be supported by a CASA counsellor.
During the investigation we will keep you informed of the progress and ensure that your questions and concerns are answered promptly. You may request to receive progress reports in writing, by phone, email or in person.
What happens to the perpetrator?
When the suspect is known or has been identified, we will interview the suspect. Depending on the circumstances, the suspect might be kept in custody. On other occasions, the suspect will be released pending some further investigation.
Your safety will be the first priority at every stage of the investigation.
At the conclusion of the investigation, all the evidence collected will be examined by a person who is specifically trained in making decisions about matters that may proceed to court. The decision is made after careful consideration and is based on the available evidence and the rules of law.
Need more information? Visit support services information
For more information see
Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL) (24 hours) 1800 806 292
1800 Respect (24 hours) national telephone line for victims of sexual assault & family
Victims of Crime Help Line (7 days, 8am-11pm) 1800 819 817
E-Safety Commissioner for information on technology-facilitated abuse, cyberbullying and safety strategies
Child Protection Service DHHS (24 hours) 131 278
Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre (24 hours) for women and children: 24 hour support 1800 015 188 or 9322 3555
Kid's Help Line 1800 551 800