New premises for Tayside Forensic Medical Services

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Head of Service for Tayside Forensic and Custody Healthcare Services Angela Cunningham and Jen Stewart

Tayside Healthcare and Forensic Medical Service has officially opened its new premises in Dundee which will help support adults who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

The new dedicated, multi-agency service means that adults who have experienced these crimes no longer have to attend a police station.  An individual will be able to access healthcare and a forensic medical examination in an NHS facility and can have their police interview in comfortable surroundings.

The facility has been developed by NHS Tayside and Angus Health and Social Care Partnership in partnership with the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (WRASAC) Dundee & Angus, the Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Perth & Kinross (RASAC P&K) and Police Scotland to make the premises as comfortable as possible for those who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Dr Catherine Calderwood chairs a national taskforce for the improvement of healthcare and forensic medical examination services for victims of sexual crime. Taskforce funding has supported the creation of this new facility and to recruit a dedicated nurse to coordinate and support a survivor’s onward care and recovery.

A survivor who had previously attended Dundee Police Station in West Bell Street recently visited the new suite and said the new facility would help support those who have experienced these crimes.

“The new facility is bright, spacious and less intimidating. I feel that it is a massive improvement and although it cannot make any incident less traumatic, it is a safe place and will make the whole process that little bit easier.

“The new facility is separate to the police station which means that if an incident occurs you’re able to have the medical/forensic aspect done and then you’re completely in control. There is no pressure, they will support you in your choices and should you decide you want to report the crime you have the forensics there when you’re ready.”

In Tayside, if someone experiences rape or sexual assault and does not feel ready to report it to the police, they can access the Sexual Assault Referral Network (SARN). The dedicated phone line (0300 365 2001) is available every day until midnight and allows people to directly contact a support worker who will offer support, access to health services such as emergency contraception and screening for sexually transmitted infections.

Head of Prison Healthcare, Out of Hours and Forensic & Custody Healthcare Jillian Galloway said, “The new forensic medical facility, which has been supported by funding from the Scottish Government, allows examinations of victims of sexual crime to take place away from police premises. The facility has been developed as part of the Scottish Government taskforce set up to improve services for adults, young people and children who have experienced rape and sexual assault.

“The new premises provide a truly person-centred approach to support individuals who are victims of sexual crime.”

Detective Inspector Keith Duncan from Public Protection at Police Scotland said, “We welcome the opening of the new medical forensic facility within Tayside.

“We hope that the discreet and safe environment that has been created away from police premises, offers reassurance and confidence to those who have suffered a traumatic experience.  We will continue to work together with our partners to provide the best possible service to our communities within Tayside.”

Centre manager at RASAC P&K Jen Stewart added, “We are extremely pleased that this new facility is now open.  Having supported many survivors over the years who have been through the reporting process, we know that being able do so out with a police station is a far better option for survivors in the aftermath of an assault.

“We recognise how difficult a time this is for people and are pleased that Tayside is in a position to make a very difficult situation as survivor-centred as possible.  We have valued the opportunity to be part of this partnership and welcome all developments over the last few months, including the extension to the SARN service.”

The new facility has also received donations from charity FareShare and Asda Perth to offer a range of toiletries and clothing for those using the facility.

Community Champion for Asda Perth Anna Jellye said, “Having access to a facility like this is so important so we were happy to support the facility in any way we could.”

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