Digital van will help police investigate rape and serious sexual offences

West Mercia Police have taken delivery of a state-of-the-art digital van to help them investigate rape and serious sexual offences across Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

West Mercia's new, digital van
West Mercia's new, digital van

The van, which has been supplied through government-funded Transforming Forensics programme, enables officers to work with a victim at the scene without needing to go to a police station.

Kitted out with the latest technology, the unmarked vehicle allows officers to extract potentially crucial information from a victim’s phone in around an hour.

The victim’s privacy is protected because they don’t need to leave their home - an officer can simply collect the phone, extract the data and then return it.

Matt Williams, Senior Digital Forensic Officer at West Mercia Police, said: “The aim of the van is to support victims of rape and serious sexual offences by going to them instead of them coming to a police station, which may be quite daunting.

“It is a significant addition to our resources and I’m sure we will see it have a positive major impact within our communities.”

The van, which can accommodate two Digital Forensics officers at a time, features specialist software and equipment to examine computers, mobile phones, tablets, USB sticks and memory cards.

It also has technology capable of examining routers to identify any connected devices and extracting information stored in the cloud.

West Mercia Police remains committed to seeking justice for rape victims and survivors. We the police and wider support services are here for them.

If you are a victim of a sexual offence you can report it to police on 101 or via West Mercia's Victim Advice Line on 0800 952 3000. In an emergency dial 999.

If you do not feel comfortable speaking to officers you can contact a referral centre which specialises in helping victims of rape and sexual assault - including providing medical care and counselling. For information and details on how to contact or refer please visit the Get Help page of the Stop Rape Now website www.stoprapenow.co.uk

Anyone who is a victim of any sexual assault who feels they may need support, or may not want to contact the police West Mercia's Victim Advice Line is a free, independent and confidential support service. People can call 0800 952 3000 or visit www.victimadviceline.org.uk

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