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Major issues remain with forensic responses to rape in Scotland

A new report released today by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Forensic docsScotland found that while some progress has been made, there has been little difference in the actual experience of rape survivors since the last report, issued in March 2017, which found that services were unacceptable.

The report found:

· Limited progress has been made in some areas in moving forensic examinations to a healthcare setting, however in some areas rape complainers continue to be examined in police stations

· Many complainers are still being examined by male doctors, despite significant evidence, both from research and direct feedback from complainers, about how distressing this can be

· Some complainers continue to experience lengthy delays in examinations taking place. This means people who have just been raped are having to wait hours and sometimes days before they can wash

· In Glasgow and the West, the one area of Scotland which has a Sexual Assault Referral Centre, the standard model in England & Wales, it remains the case that victims presenting out of hours are unlikely to receive essential health and wellbeing services, including the provision of emergency contraception.

Sandy Brindley from Rape Crisis Scotland said

“The Scottish Government’s announcement on Sunday of additional funding to improve responses to rape survivors is welcome but it is clear that much more needs to be done if we are to meet the needs of adults, adolescents and children across Scotland who have experienced sexual crime. There continues to be significant issues with the current provision, with many survivors telling us of how distressing they found it to be examined by a male doctor immediately after the rape or sexual assault.

Survivors still tell us of having to wait a day or longer for the examination. This means they can’t wash for some time after being raped, which can cause significant distress. This is a completely unacceptable.

The very least survivors of rape should be able to expect is a standard of forensic care which will allow their examination to take place in an appropriate location and by a female doctor – regardless of geographical location. We appreciate the work of the CMO’s taskforce, which RCS is involved in and the commitment of many health professionals across the country working to make things better. Change can’t come too soon.”

Tags: forensics