Help for sex crime vic­tims

New unit to help suf­fer­ers on way

Stirling Observer - - FRONT PAGE - John Row­botham

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.

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