Embassy-organised seminar aims at helping victims of sexual violence and giving insight into investigating and prosecuting sex offenders.
On 12-14 November, British Embassy Sofia organised a police seminar, focused on working with victims of sexual violence and sexual offenders. The main objectives of the event were to improve the quality of victim care, identify opportunities to reduce the number of victims of sexual assault, build knowledge around sexual offenders’ thinking and behaviour, and share best practice between Bulgaria and the UK in the field.
Policemen, observing prosecutors, NGOs and gender organisations, dealing with rape and sexual assaults, took part in the seminar. There were lecturers from Sussex Police, CEOP, Bulgarian Ministry of Interior and and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The participants shared common views on the following topics:
- There are similarities between the Bulgarian and British legislation on rape and sexual assault
- NGOs have a vital role in supporting the victims of rape and sexual assaults. Participants exchanged ideas on how to work together and vice versa NGO’s were glad to offer their services (i.e. a regional prosecutor from Burgas is interested in using the services of a Pleven-based NGO)
- Following the British experience, the Bulgarian authoroties are willing to introduce Sexual Assault Referral Centres SARC locally. The Chief Directorate National Police will look for funding to implement the project
- There is interest in conducting online undercover investigations when dealing with sex offenders
- Development of a methodology for IT profiling of sex offenders will be of great use
- All stakeholders will benefit from a continuous cooperation between the institutions (Police and prosecutors), the NGO sector and British Embassy in cases of rape and sexual assault
- The mindset of those social workers, Police and prosecutors assuming that victims are responsible for the sexual crimes they have been involved in needs to change
Jonathan Allen, British Ambassador to Bulgaria, said:
Sexual violence is a very sensitive topic. Sexual assault cases are some of the most difficult to investigate and prosecute.
The Embassy came up with the idea for this seminar because of an increasing number of British victims of sexual assault and cases of British sexual offenders in Bulgaria in the last few years. I believe it will be the beginning of a successful partnership between Bulgaria and UK in this uneasy field.
The authorities, and all of us as members of the society, are responsible for helping the victims and making them feel safe and secure if reporting a case of sexual violence. The victims of sexual violence and their interests must be at the centre of everything.
About the seminar
The seminar How to Work Effectively with Victims of Sexual Violence and Sex Offenders is organised by the Consular Section at the British Embassy Sofia, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria.
In November 2012, as part of the cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, the Consular Section organised a Police/Partnership Conference for Exchange of Good Practices. The latter resulted in better communication between the stakeholders and regular meetings to discuss problems in the mass tourism area and find ways to resolve them.