Help for sex crime victims
New unit to help sufferers on way
A new unit hosting healthcare and forensic services for victims of sexual violence is due to open in Forth Valley in April.
Called The Meadows, the facility will be in the grounds of Forth Valley Royal Hospital. An established building there is being refurbished and adapted for those who have suffered rape and sexual assault.
Currently, facilities in Forth Valley for conducting interviews and medical examinations for sexual crimes are based at Falkirk Police Station.
Funding for the new unit will come from the Scottish Government which, in December, 2017, set aside £8.5 million over the next three years to improve the service nationally.
NHS Forth Valley chief executive Cathie Cowan said: “Our new centre will contain a forensic suite as well as a specialist area to meet the needs of children. It will also have police interview facilities for both children and adults and specially-trained staff to help deal with trauma and provide ongoing support.”
Advocacy Worker for Forth Valley Rape Crisis Claire Montgomery welcomed the developments at FVRH and added: “The new unit is going to be a great asset.
“We have been very impressed with the level of thought that has gone into designing the unit with the needs of survivors of sexual violence a top priority.
“Having to go through a forensic examination can be extremely difficult and it is important that services such as this have taken the time to consider what survivors need.
“Having a variety of other relevant services under one roof will be also be really beneficial for survivors accessing support and information.”
Detective Inspector Michelle Findlay, head of the rape and domestic abuse investigation unit in Forth Valley, welcomed the setting up of the new centre and said officers would be trained in using the new facilities.
The investment builds on the work of a Scottish Government taskforce headed by chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood which was established in 2017 to encourage health boards to improve services for children and adults who have experienced rape and sexual assault.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland has also laid standards aimed at ensuring victims – regardless of age, personal circumstances or geographical location – will receive a high standard of care. The standards include providing the opportunity to request a female examiner and a comfortable and welcoming setting for examinations, and giving victims control over the process.
In a report this week, HM Inspector of Constabulary inScotland Gill Imery acknowledged the Scottish Government had prioritised improvement in services for sexual assault victims.
But she added: “Those involved in the frontline of this important service tell us little has changed on the ground.
“This is against a backdrop of increasing numbers of sexual crimes being reported to police.”
The cost of improvements to the service in Forth Valley is unclear.