Sexual assault victim demands more training for Bedfordshire Police officers after being dealt with "insensitively"

She hopes her story will lead to change within the force

Monday, 29th March 2021, 4:10 pm

A woman who was sexually assaulted in the workplace has called for more training for police officers after she said she was made to feel guilty for coming forward.

And she's also called for a change in some officers' attitudes - but was keen any victims aren't put off reporting sexual assault.

She told our reporter: "I was not treated with sensitivity by the police," and said she was made to feel guilty.

"I was not treated with sensitivity by the police," said the victim

The woman was sexually assaulted in the workplace at the end of last year and reported the incident two days later - but decided not to take things further as she hoped her company's HR department would deal with it.

She said: "The police officer could have done more to tell me how important it is to press charges as soon as possible. But I just wanted this man out of my life."

The victim - who cannot be named - added: "I do not recall being offered a female police officer" - and instead, was interviewed by two male police officers.

"I did not press charges that day because I was scared what could happen - that I'd have to go to court and face him."

But when her employers failed to deal with her colleague, she felt she simply had to return to the police to get justice but says she was left feeling she had done something wrong.

Dealing with a different male officer, he asked her "why are you coming forward now?"

She said: "I said I want justice for myself and other victims but he said 'oh, so you want him done'.

"I was taken aback. I felt like I another number to them. I was not a person, just another report. They see it as being so pointless."

And she has called for more police training and for victims to be offered a female officer if possible.

"I do not want victims not to go the police - I want something to be done about training. You should be given the choice about the sex of the officer you are dealing with."

She also called for more counselling to be given to police to deal with victims more sympathetically.

A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: "We have reviewed this complaint and have spoken to directly to the person involved to update her. We are sorry her experience fell short of both her – and our – expectations, and this has been taken up with the officer concerned.

"We know how hard it is for people to come forward, especially regarding matters of a sexual nature, and have a county-wide team of specially trained officers, dedicated to the investigation of such offences.

"We assess each case individually in order to try to best meet the needs of the victim, and that includes assigning a female officer if they have been specifically requested, however this may not always be possible.

"We’re always keen to learn from victims’ experiences in order to help improve our level of service and are taking forward the feedback in this case."