Be clear about what you can and can’t do
It is important at this stage to tell the student you are there to support and help them decide what they would like to happen next.
Remember, your role is not to investigate or comment on what they say, but to understand the essential facts so you can provide options and support.
At this stage you must tell the student that anything they tell you, you will treat with confidence. This means that only your line manager and key safeguarding staff will be made aware of their report.
Unless there is an immediate risk to safety, no action will be taken without their knowledge or consent. For example, they might not want anything to happen after the conversation – if no one’s safety is at immediate risk, that is entirely their choice.
You should be clear that they don’t need to share any details about what has happened if they don’t want to, and it’s their decision how much they wish to share with. You can still offer support without having any details.
If they want to talk to someone in complete confidence, they can contact an external service, and you can offer to give them the details.
Allow time to talk
Allow the student time to talk, be patient and let them go at their own pace. Avoid asking any detailed questions.
If you do need to ask a question, gentle and open-ended questions are helpful.
- What can I do to help?
- What help do you need?
You don’t need to talk to me in detail, but you might want to briefly tell me what happened, or what support you would like, so that I can work out how best to help.
Focus on what is being said not on what you are going to say or do.
Discuss the options
Give the student time and space to think and settle down.
Once you think they are ready, give them information about their options (guide for students) and talk this through together if the student would like.
Ask what they would like to do next. Listen carefully to what they want to do and respect those decisions.
Remember, the student is in control – it’s not your role to advise them on any particular course of action, but to let them know about the options available.
Students can seek advice from a number of agencies, at any time after the incident. A student may wish to take all, none, or any combination of the following options.
- Accessing a Sexual Assault Service
- Informing the Police
- Seeking Medical Assistance
- Informing LSBU through the Report and Support system.
- Accessing LSBU wellbeing support and counselling
- Accessing external support and Counselling
There is no time limit on any of the options.
Reporting to LSBU
If the student wishes to report the incident to LSBU, they can do this through the ‘Report and Support’ system. They can make a report now, or in the future – they don’t have to decide immediately.
Report and Support offers a point of contact to report incidents and access support in relation to sexual violence. If the student uses the reporting system they are not committing to any specific course of action, but they can access advice and guidance on what to do next.
One of the options includes making a formal report, if the incident involves another student or a member of staff at LSBU.
Reporting to the police
Taking control of what happens next is important for the student.
There is no time limit on reporting rape or sexual assault to the police, and no time limit for accessing specialist advice and support.
The student may wish to get advice from an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) before they do. An ISVA’s role is to provide accurate and impartial information and tailored emotional and practical support to victims and survivors of sexual violence.
More info and advice to help students with their decision about reporting to the police is available Download Reporting to police student guide (document download)
If the student wishes to report the incident to the police, it is preferable for them to make the initial call to the police themselves.
If they don’t feel able to, you can only call the police for them if you have their permission (remember, if there is an immediate risk to safety, follow advice for what to do in an emergency).
If the student wants to contact the police, they can contact Southwark Police on 101. The line is staffed 24 hours a day by trained operators.
If the perpetrator is still at the scene or nearby, call 999. The police operator will ask the student for their name, date of birth, address and details of what has happened, so they can make an appropriate response
It’s important to respect the student’s privacy. Do not discuss the incident with anyone but your manager or the Mental Health and Wellbeing team.
You should inform your manager that a report has been made and that someone will be in touch about the next steps.
Support for you
Hearing a disclosure of sexual assault can be distressing. It is important that you look after yourself afterwards.
- Take time to look after yourself and do something that’s relaxing or that you enjoy.
- Speak to your manager and arrange a debrief session.
- Contact the employee support line 0800 882 4102 – confidential, non-judgemental, free advice and support, 24 hours a day.