The Sexual Assault Referral Network (SARN) in Tayside has extended its opening hours to support people who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
The SARN offers a self-referral service to people who have been raped or sexually assaulted but do not want to report it to the Police. The network has recently extended its opening hours and set up a dedicated phone line which is available every day until midnight.
The phone line – 0300 365 2001 – allows people to directly contact a rape crisis helpline worker who will give initial support and contact with the forensic and custody nurses in Tayside.
Callers are offered access to health services, such as emergency contraception and screening for sexually transmitted infections. They are also offered the option of the collection and storage of forensic evidence, should they decide to report to the police at a later time.
NHS Tayside, Womens Rape and Sexual Assault Centre (WRASAC) Dundee & Angus, Rape and Sexual Assault Centre Perth & Kinross, Rape Crisis Scotland (RASAC) and Police Scotland have collaborated to increase the service and raise the profile and awareness of the SARN self-referral service.
Head of Forensic Medical Service, Out Of Hours and Prison Healthcare Jillian Galloway said, “The Sexual Assault Referral Network is an important service available to people who have experienced rape or sexual assault and we are pleased to announce that this will be extended to include evenings and weekends.
“This service means that people who have experienced rape or sexual assault, who do not wish to inform the police, will have access to appropriate, person-centred care and treatment. The service gives the choice and control back to the person, if or when they report to the police knowing that the forensic evidence will be available when required. We work closely with Police Scotland and other partners on a regular basis to ensure we provide a trauma informed service and the best care possible”
Sinead Daly, WRASAC, said “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the NHS in the redesign and promotion of the Sexual Assault Referral Network. We know from supporting people who have been raped or sexually assaulted that this is an extremely overwhelming and traumatic time. Many just can’t face or are not sure about whether to report to the police.
“The SARN is a really important option because it means they can have the evidence gathered anonymously and with support without the burden of making immediate decisions. This expansion of the service means women no longer have to wait days to get the evidence gathered, which is very important to help to reduce the severity of the trauma people who have experienced sexual violence experience.
“The SARN allows survivors the opportunity to access a forensic exam within seven days of the incident without making a formal report to the police. Gathering this evidence allows survivors the time and space needed for them to make an informed decision around future reporting should they wish to do so.
“Our advocacy service assists women to access the SARN as well as providing an ongoing practical and emotional support service. We can support survivors from their initial statement to the police and throughout their entire justice journey.”
Detective Inspector Keith Duncan, Public Protection Unit in Tayside Division, said, “I welcome the improved SARN service available to victims of sexual crime within the communities of Tayside. I hope these improvements will increase confidence through access to appropriate advocacy and support to enable victims to report these incidents to the police when they feel the time is right.
“Police Scotland takes every opportunity to work with our partners to provide a victim centred approach and best possible service to victims of such serious crimes.”
RASAC P&K development manager Jen Stewart added, “RASAC P&K are pleased to be part of this campaign promoting the Tayside Sexual Assault Referral Network.
“The days following an assault are extremely difficult and many survivors do not decide whether or not to report to the Police immediately. This service allows anyone in this position, age 16+, to still access facilities within which forensics can be taken and stored.
“This collaborative approach is a further step forward in improving responses to those who are raped or sexually assaulted. We know the difference that this can make and are committed to raising awareness about this vital service so that more people recognise this as an option in the immediate days following an assault.”