If you have been the victim of assault, the Police Service of Northern Ireland is here to help you. The term ‘Assault’ is a wide ranging term and is used to describe an attack on an individual, whether physical damage results or not. Examples of assaults can include:
- Circumstances where you thought you were going to be attacked but no attack occurred, this is legally termed, “The apprehension of immediate and unlawful violence”.
- Kicking, slapping, hair pulling or any attack which results in minor physical injury such as redness of the skin or light bruising.
- Punching, stamping , biting or any attack resulting in moderate injuries such as a black eye, bloody nose, cuts, scratches or abrasions
- The causing of serious injuries such as broken bones and major cuts
- Any attack involving a weapon
This list is not exhaustive and any attack should be reported to Police for investigation, whether you know your attacker or not.
- Find a safe place to wait for Police. Make sure you let us know if you leave the area and where we can find you.
- Report the assault to Police as soon as it is safe to do so. The sooner we get the report, the sooner we can act to preserve evidence and locate the offender.
- Try to remember everything you can about the offender. Physical descriptions and a description of clothing worn by the offender may help us to identify someone from CCTV footage.
- If the offender left in a vehicle, try to obtain the make/model and colour of the vehicle. If you are able to write down the vehicle registration or type it into a phone as soon as possible, it will help with the identification of the offender.
- Try to avoid washing the clothing you were wearing at the time of the attack. Forensic evidence may be destroyed.
- Avoid posting anything about the assault on social media. Anything you post may have a negative impact on the investigation or any court case. Police may use social media to appeal for witnesses.
- If you have been injured, ensure you attend a medical professional who will make a record of your injuries.
- Obtain a statement from the victim and any other witnesses who may be identified.
- Take photographs of your injuries.
- Establish the presence of CCTV footage of the assault and take steps to preserve that evidence.
- Submit items of clothing or other items for forensic testing.
- Follow lines of enquiry to identify the attacker.
This list is not exhaustive.
The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) can apply to the court to have special measures (such as putting up screens so you don’t have to look at your attacker) put in place to make this process easier for you. If you have any concerns or fears about attending court, bring them to the attention of the Investigating Officer who will talk you through the process and can apply to the PPS for special measures on your behalf.
An assault can cause physical and mental injuries. Victim Support NI have volunteers who offer emotional support, information and practical help to people who have suffered from any type of crime.