Rape victims in Scotland 'have less support than in England'

Conservative MSP Annie Wells wants more sexual assault referral centres north of the border.

Support: There is only one sexual assault referral centre in Scotland (file pic). <strong>PA</strong>
Support: There is only one sexual assault referral centre in Scotland (file pic). PA

Victims of rape and sexual assault in Scotland have fewer support services than those in England, a Conservative MSP has said.

Annie Wells pointed out the lack of sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) in Scotland compared to south of the border.

Scotland has only one SARC while England has 43, each within two hours of each other.

The Sandyford Archyway clinic in Glasgow provides victims with counselling as well as taking forensic examinations.

Wells said: “When Scotland’s solitary SARC was set up it was hailed by the Scottish Government as a flagship and many expected more to follow.

“But almost a decade on it is still the only one in the country, whereas there are 43 across England, all within two hours of each other.

“It is very concerning that those who don’t live in the Glasgow vicinity can’t access facilities like these.”

She added: “I know from speaking to victims just how beneficial the services at Archway are, especially given victims can stay with the clinic from the start and right through as long as they need it.

“It’s a place for victims to go to have access to forensic examiners of the gender of their choice, away from the sometimes intimidating environment of a police station.

“What started as a pioneering project must continue elsewhere in the country – we cannot ignore methods that are shown to be working.”

Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “The consequences and impact of rape and sexual assault are devastating and we are absolutely committed to doing all that we can to support victims, including allocating additional resources for the NHS to scope existing services and working in partnership with NHS Education Scotland to understand why more female doctors don’t choose to work in this area through a survey which will be launched shortly.

“The SARCs model is just one way of delivering care and we are exploring with the NHS, Police Scotland and others what services and workforce are needed to deliver this vital support in communities across Scotland.

“We are committed to providing trained staff with the necessary expertise, leading to a better service for the victims.

“This includes considering the needs of all communities, including rural or remote areas and islands, and providing forensic examinations as part of a patient’s overall care whilst guarding against undue delays which could compromise evidence.”

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