The police have three important aims when they gather evidence:
- To assist in establishing what offence(s) have been committed
- Gather evidence of the crime
- Search for clues to identify or confirm the identity of the offender.
- Complainant’s clothing
- The crime scene which may include any building, motor vehicle or place where an offence has occurred
- Forensic medical examination of the complainant
- Medical examination of the offender, once located
- Examination of the offender’s clothing
- Examination of any weapons or other items (if any) used during the offence.
Police will identify the crime scene if possible and conduct a search to locate and preserve any available evidence. This may include seizing bedding, sheets, pillows, clothing, carpet and more depending on the situation.
If the rape/sexual assault occurred in the previous 72 hours then evidence may be sought via a forensic medical examination of the complainant.
In the case where the offence has just occurred, and you are still in the clothing worn at the time of the offence, and you are thinking of proceeding with a complaint, police ask that you don’t change your clothes. Arrangements will be made for you to get a change of clothing.
If you have already changed your clothing it is still important to give police all of your clothing worn at the time of the offence. It is important that the clothing is not washed.
Your clothing may be subjected to forensic examination and will not be returned to you until after any court matters are finalised. If you do not want your clothing returned you need to tell the police.
A forensic medical examination is an examination conducted by a Government Medical Officer (GMO) or a specialised doctor. The examination may include:
- An internal examination where the doctor will take a number of samples by swab for later forensic examination
- The taking of other body samples. These may include:
- Pubic hair
- Scraping from under fingernails
- The release to police of any specimens taken or relevant laboratory results
- The taking of any necessary photographs.
You may have a support person of your choice present during the forensic medical examination. A witness or potential witness may not act as a support person.
Retaining forensic evidence is important however you will not be discouraged from washing bodily fluids from the vaginal or anal areas due to the risk of infection from potentially life threatening diseases such as HIV.
Yes. These needs will vary depending on your gender and the type of assault and include:
- Emotional support and referral to appropriate support service(s)
- Pregnancy test
- Prevention of sexually transmitted disease
- General health care for body trauma
You are strongly encouraged to look after your health and wellbeing.
If you would like to discuss any issues about sexual assault or information about where to contact a counsellor, please contact the Statewide Sexual Assault Helpline.
Please dial: 1800 010 120
The Statewide Sexual Assault Helpline:
- will provide immediate counselling and support
- provide referral to assistance available in your area
A list of all support services in Queensland is also available.