News

New Bill allows rape victims to request forensic medical examination without reporting crime

December 3, 2019

The Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill, which allows victims of rape and sexual assault to self-refer to medical services without the need to report to police, is intended to end the need for forensic medical examinations to take place in police stations.

This will allow victims to access the healthcare they need and for evidence to be gathered should they decide to pursue criminal charges at a later point.

The Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 27 November 2019. If passed, the Bill will provide a clear statutory duty for health boards to provide forensic medical services for victim of rape, sexual assault or child sexual abuse and will ensure that each individual’s healthcare and support needs are paramount.

The Bill will also set out provision for health boards to retain certain evidence from a forensic medical examination (which may support any future criminal investigation or prosecution), even if a victim does not wish to report the incident to the police or are undecided about doing so.

The move follows criticism from an independent watchdog, which said that services in Scotland were lagging behind the rest of the UK. Currently, only NHS Tayside and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde currently accept self-referrals.

Full details including a link to the Bill, accompanying documents and impact assessments are available on the Scottish Government’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) page.