What is rape?

A person commits rape if they intentionally penetrate the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with their penis without consent.

What is sexual assault?

A person commits sexual assault if they intentionally touch another person, the touching is sexual and the person does not consent.

What is a serious sexual assault?

Assault by penetration - a person commits assault by penetration if they intentionally penetrate the vagina or anus of another person with a part of the body or anything else, without their consent.

What is a SOIT officer?

Sexual Offence Investigative Techniques (SOIT) officers attend a rigorous training course. They will not judge the victim or the circumstances surrounding the offence but ensure that any immediate physical, mental and welfare needs are met. They will explain the criminal justice process and gather evidence and information in support of the investigation.

They will ensure that victims are regularly updated about the progress of the investigation and will provide support from beginning to end. This includes accompanying them to the Havens and to court in the event of a trial. All victims are dealt with in a sensitive and compassionate manner by these dedicated, committed and experienced officers.


Section 74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 defines consent for the purposes of Sections 1-79. Below are extracts from the legal definition that will help to explain this area of the law:

'A person consents if they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice'.

This definition is relevant to many sections of the Sexual Offences Act including the offence of rape (Section 1).  The section refers to a person's capacity to make a choice. A person might not have sufficient capacity because of his age or because of a mental disorder.

The amount someone has had to drink can also affect a person's ability to consent.