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#Broadchruch is focusing on serious sexual assaults with police reminding public help is available

As tonight’s first new episode of Broadchurch begins to follow the story of an investigation into a serious sexual assault, agencies remind the public of the help available for those affected by similar issues in Dorset.

The third and final series of the ITV drama Broadchurch follows the fictional investigation of a serious sexual assault. The first episode will air on the evening of Monday 27 February and as the storyline is based in a fictional Dorset town, much of the filming took place in Bridport and West Bay.

The Shores, Dorset’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), and the Dorset Rape Crisis charity, along with various police advisers, worked closely with the show’s producers to ensure a realistic account of an investigation into a serious sexual assault and representation of the support provided to victims.

The Shores Manager, Michelle Challis said: “The Shores can offer free and confidential help to support a forensic examination and referrals for ongoing relevant support with or without police involvement. We have independent sexual violence advisors (ISVAs) who help victims deal with and recover from the emotional and physical effects of the assault, and can support individuals to report the incident to the police – but only if this is what they wish to do.

“It was really important to us that Broadchurch’s portrayal of the service provided by the SARC was realistic. Seeking support following an assault is never easy so we wanted it to be demonstrated that there is dedicated support available and you will be taken seriously and looked after.”

Dorset Rape Crisis Service Manager, Helen Stevens said: “Dorset Rape Crisis is an independent charity working across the whole of Dorset to support survivors of sexual assault.

“Our team of dedicated Independent Sexual Violence Advisors provide practical and emotional support and work closely with our Counselling team. Our telephone helpline and Lifechat services also offer help and support.

“It has been a real privilege to work with Chris Chibnall and the Broadchurch production team. We hope that the series will enable victims of sexual violence to come forward to receive the help and specialist support that is available to them.”

Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall said: “We’ve spent time since the series was last on air researching and developing this story. We have worked closely with support organisations in the Dorset area who work with victims of sexual assault. We’ve spent time with the amazing support workers who run referral centres. We’ve developed relationships with and talked in depth with Independent Sexual Violence Advisors as well as police who investigate these crimes, and survivors of these crimes. These extraordinary people have advised us every step of the way.

“I wanted to tell this story because recorded sexual offences have been increasing year on year.”

Detective Chief Inspector Joan Carmichael said: “There has been an increase in reports of rape and sexual assault nationally, which is also being reflected in Dorset. The rise demonstrates the growing public confidence in reporting such sensitive crimes, as well as an increase in reports of non-recent rapes and sexual assaults following the publicity of high-profile historical abuse cases.

“Broadchurch is dramatising a very sensitive subject but it serves as a reminder that the police will do everything they can to bring offenders to justice and there is help and support available to anyone who has been a victim of such crimes.

“Dorset Police takes all reports of rape and sexual assault seriously, no matter when they happened or who you are. Our specially-trained officers can help and advise you. They are dedicated to investigating these sorts of offences, will talk to you in confidence, will explain the options open to you and will be guided by your wishes. If you don’t want to talk to the police The Shores or Dorset Rape Crisis are also there to support you.”

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