Centre for sexual assault victims praised by justice minister

The Meadows provides a range of services and support for adults and children who have experienced rape, sexual assault or gender-based violence.

Centre for sexual assault victims praised by justice minister Handout/PA

A centre for sexual assault victims has been praised by the justice secretary as a “beacon” of the model he would like to see across Scotland.

The Meadows, based at Larbert near Falkirk, provides a comprehensive range of services and support for adults and children who have experienced rape, sexual assault or gender-based violence, including victims of historic sexual abuse.

Victims no longer have to have an examination at Falkirk Police Station as the centre brings together a number of services including forensic-medical examination services, video and interview facilities and a separate area for children.

The Meadows is seen as a blueprint for other Sexual Assault Response Coordination Services across Scotland.

Justice secretary Keith Brown, Cathie Cowan, chief executive NHS Forth Valley and Professor Marion Bain, deputy chief medical officer for Scotland, during the Justice Secretary's visit to the Meadows NHS Forth Valley in Larbert.Handout/PA

The centres, which are designed to provide a comfortable, less clinical environment with improved facilities for healthcare forensic medical examinations and interviews, are being rolled out across the country, supported by £10 million of Scottish Government funding.

Following a visit to The Meadows on Tuesday, justice secretary Keith Brown said: “The health and wellbeing of sexual assault victims must be our priority if justice is truly to be served.

”To enable victims to come forward it is vital that they are treated with compassion, respect and are properly supported from the moment any sexual assault is reported.

“Pioneering facilities like The Meadows are a beacon of the model we would like to see across Scotland.

“It has been recognised nationally as a model of best practice and provides a comprehensive, responsive, person centred, and trauma informed service to victims in a safe and comfortable environment during a distressing time.

“It is clear from this visit the excellent and important work all the staff do, and I’d like to thank each and every one for their tireless commitment to improving the care and support available for sexual assault victims.”

Detective chief inspector David MacGregor, of Police Scotland, said the centre provides “pivotal” support to both adults and children who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

He said: “The facility also allows police to move forensic medical examination suites into a local NHS community-based facility where victims have access to a number of key services.

“Police Scotland is committed to tackling all forms of sexual crimes and we will continue to work with our partners at the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland to offer people the best services specific to their needs.”

The £10m of Scottish Government funding was for the four-year period 2018-2019 to 2021-22.

Hazel Somerville, NHS Forth Valley Gender Based Violence lead, said: “More than 100 people have accessed support and services at The Meadows since April 2019.

“As well as providing important initial examination services we also provide a wide range of emotional health care support.

“We’re delighted to see the approach we have taken in NHS Forth Valley being adopted in other parts of Scotland.”