It is estimated that at least 20% of women and 4% of men have experienced some type of sexual assault since the age of 16 years old. Sexual offences include Rape, Sexual Assault, Revenge Pornography, 'Upskirting' and Indecent Exposure. Each of these offences has a devastating impact on its victims and can often leave people feeling distressed, traumatised, ashamed and alone. For more information on the difference between these offences please visit our Advice page ‘What is rape and sexual assault?’.

Sussex Police is committed to investigating sexual offences, pursuing suspects of these offences and protecting and supporting victims and our communities. We are continuously working alongside our partners such as the Crown Prosecution Service and local support services including Survivors Network to improve the way we investigate sexual offences, the victim experience through the criminal justice process, and our conviction rates at court.

Making the decision to report a sexual offence

You may be concerned about reporting a sexual offence. We often have the image of a sexual offence being committed by a stranger however many sexual offences are committed by someone trusted; a partner or ex-partner or even a family member. There are lots of things that could make it harder for someone affected to even identify, or come to terms with having been subject to a sexual offence. 

We understand that reporting this to the police can have a huge impact on your life and your family. The incident may have happened recently or may have happened some time ago. You may also think that because you do not know the individual that there is no point in you reporting this. This is not the case - there are lots of enquiries that we can conduct that may assist in identifying the suspect to prevent this happening to anyone else.

We understand that there are lots of concerns for someone coming forward and deciding to report an offence but remember - it is never the victim's fault.

It takes a huge amount of courage, but you are not alone – our extensively trained staff and officers are here to keep you safe.

There are a number of methods you can use to report incidents to us – you can let us know about something that happened to you personally, or you can report on behalf of someone else. You can find the details on our ‘How to report rape and sexual assault’ page.

The circumstances behind any report of rape or sexual assault are unique, so the way we investigate each one can vary. However, every investigation will start with the same steps to make sure we gather as much evidence as we can, as quickly as we can, while giving you all the support and advice you need. Find out what happens after you report rape or sexual assault.

We would always encourage you to report sexual offences to us directly. However, if you do not feel able to, you can self-refer to one of the county's Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs).

Alternatively please make contact with the support services available.