Forensic national standards launch to ‘reduce further trauma’ for victims of sexual violence

Victims of rape will benefit from substantial funding being pumped into the first national standards for forensic medical examinations across Scotland.

Dec 20, 2017

Victims of rape will benefit from substantial funding being pumped into the first national standards for forensic medical examinations across Scotland. People subjected to the trauma of sexual assault have been promised better psychological and medical assistance following the launch of the project today. Published by Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS), the standards will ensure that victims – regardless of age, personal circumstances or geographical location – will experience a level of care to a high standard that aims to reduce the likelihood of further trauma. The Scottish government has allocated £2 million as part of the 2018/19 budget, on top of the £250,000 from the 2017/18 budget, to support improvements in forensic medical examination services along with implementation of the new standards. It comes amid allegations that that Scotland could do more to ensure better treatment of rape victims. In the past year Rape Crisis Scotland has complained that evidence-gathering lacks consistency; and a report by Her Majesty`s Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland indicated “significant variations” in examinations across the country as well as long delays Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, who is visiting Rape Crisis Scotland`s head office for the official launch on Wednesday (December 20),said: “We know the immediate and long-term physical and psychological consequences of rape can be considerable and we are aware that current services for rape victims may not always be focused on their needs. “These standards will ensure consistency in approach to healthcare and forensic medical services and will reinforce the high-quality care anyone should expect after experiencing rape or sexual assault. “It is our ambition to ensure that person-centred care is provided across both the health and justice system for victims, and improving forensic medical examinations is an important step in this work.” The new standards include: providing the opportunity to request a female examiner; treating individuals with privacy, dignity, respect and sensitivity; providing a comfortable and welcoming setting for examinations; talking through the process, including follow-up healthcare; and enabling and supporting the person having some control over the process. A taskforce under Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood has among its early priorities to support health boards to have the equipment they need and to move any forensic medical examination facilities from police settings to health and social care settings. Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland added: “Rape is a crime which can have a significant and long-lasting impact. The immediate response from agencies and the quality of help available can make a big difference to someone who has just been raped or sexually assaulted. “The new standards released today have the potential to transform the support and care people receive after a rape or sexual assault. The funding to help implement the standards across the country is very welcome.” The announcement comes the day after an agreement was signed between Rape Crisis Centre and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for victims to provide anonymous feedback of their experience with the justice system to help improve services for victims.

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