PSNI - What help is available?

Public Protection Branch

This branch has the overall responsibility for operational activity as well as policy and practice in relation to domestic abuse, child abuse, child sexual exploitation, sex and violent offender management, adult safeguarding, rape, child abuse imagery, e-safety and all associated control strategies. They are also responsible for education and safeguarding within these areas and work closely with several partner agencies, including the Health Trusts, Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland, other statutory organisations and charities such as Women’s Aid, Men’s Advisory Project, Rainbow, NSPCC, Nexus and others. Every day they are working with those agencies, organisations and charities to support and protect the vulnerable and build confidence in policing. On an almost daily basis, there are media headlines about domestic and sexual abuse, internet safety and the risks posed by those accessing images of child abuse, child abuse and child sexual exploitation. Officers within Public Protection Branch are committed to ensuring they detect those committing these crimes and bring them before the court.

If you have information which is causing harm to your community, you can speak to your local police person, telephone 101 or alternatively contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Rape Crime Unit

Rape crime unit can get referrals from a number of sources however the most common pathways:

  • Are a referral through someone contacting 999 or 101 general police switchboard numbers and advising that a rape has taken place
  • The referral can come from the Rowan when a person present at the rowan and then informs staff that they wish for police to be informed
  • Finally referrals cam come to our department through a unit in the police that is called ‘Central Referral Unit’- the majority of these referrals would be from professional bodies like social services, when a client has made a disclosure

In relation to the direct referral to police in the majority of incidents uniform police will attend in the first instance and then information will be passed to the Rape crime department, our uniform colleagues will gather the necessary initial information that is required to establish when the incident occurred, suspect and location of the incident – this allows RCU to make important investigative decisions – ref medicals/arrests of the suspect/examination of the scene/any other potential fast track actions that are required.

Rape crime cases can be defined as:

  • Recent – 7 days or under
  • Non-recent – 7 days to 365 days
  • Historic – over 1 year

And based on the above category will depend on if the case is a forensic case that needs urgent medical examination to secure and preserve evidence – this would be forensic medical examination that takes place in the Rowan.
Once the crime has been disclosed and the investigation plan is formulated – to include victims account, CCTV enquiries, witness enquiries and then suspect enquiries – arrest/interview etc. if the victim names the alleged offender in a report then police will need to interview him and submit a file to the PPS.
There may be times when police will have contact with the helpline – for example I’m unsure if your helplines are recorded – but a person makes a disclosure of a rape to the helpline staff police would most likely be requesting either the recording or notes taken by the caller.

Information for victims of crime
This leaflet sets out what you can expect from key service providers as a victim of crime. It also contains information about organisations that you can contact for free advice, practical information or support. To find out more visit

Crime reference and contact details
Where you have reported the incident to the police, information on the reported crime is set out below. Reporting the crime
You should report a crime as soon as possible, in one of these ways:

  • Emergency: Phone 999 where there is serious injury, threat or danger; a crime is in progress; or suspects are on the scene.
  • Non-urgent matters: Phone 101 or you can report online at
  • Hate crime: You can also report hate crime online at
  • Crimestoppers helpline: Freephone 0800 555 111, if you do not want to give your name. This is not part of PSNI.
  • Call at your local police station: You can report non-urgent incidents at your local police station, during opening hours.

If necessary, the police will take a written, or video recorded, statement from you setting out what happened. The format will depend on your needs. The police will assess your needs to consider what information, protection and support you may need.


Police investigation
You will receive an update within 10 days on what the police are doing to investigate the crime. If appropriate, they will give you further updates as the case progresses and agree when these will be.

Helping the police to investigate your crime
So that the police assist you as best they can, and can investigate your case, you should let them know if:

  • your contact details change.
  • you remember something not already included in your statement
  • you have any specific needs, for example, because of a learning or physical disability, mental health issue or communication difficulty
  • you feel intimidated, for example because of your relationship with the offender, or your gender, race, sexuality, religion or disability.

Victims with specific needs
If you have a learning or physical disability, mental health issue, communication difficulty, are a child or are being intimidated you may need extra help to tell the police, and court, what happened. ‘Special measures’ and other protection measures are available to help you. Where appropriate the police and Victim and Witness Care Unit will discuss these with you. The Victim Charter sets out measures and entitlements for young people and others including those who live in other EU countries. Information on special measures (such as giving evidence by video link, the use of screens, giving evidence in private, using video-recorded statements and assistance from Registered Intermediaries, who can help you communicate your evidence) can be found at: The Judge will decide if special measures are to be granted.