Views sought on bill for medical self-referral of alleged victims of sexual offences

Views sought on bill for medical self-referral of alleged victims of sexual offences

A bill providing for the healthcare needs of alleged victims of rape and sexual offences is to be considered by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee.

The bill would allow alleged victims over the age of 16 to ‘self-refer’ themselves to NHS facilities for forensic medical examinations without involving the police.

Currently, such examinations are only possible where there is police involvement. The proposed bill would allow victims to have their healthcare needs assessed and addressed, as well as have forensic evidence taken and retained, even if they decide not to report the incident to the police.

The Health and Sport Committee is seeking to find out:

  • The advantages and disadvantages of placing the examination of victims of sexual offences (and acts committed by those below the age of criminal responsibility) by health boards on a statutory basis.
  • The benefits of providing forensic examination on a self-referral basis, and what problems may arise from this process.
  • Whether there are issues with the proposal to restrict self-referral to people over 16 years old.
  • Any potential issues with health boards storing and retaining evidence which has been gathered during self-referred forensic examinations.

Speaking as the call for views was launched, Lewis Macdonald MSP, convener of the Health and Sport committee, said: “We want to make sure that anyone who has suffered the ordeal of a sexual offence feels able to come forward for a medical examination and have their healthcare needs addressed.

“This bill allows victims of sexual offences to self-refer themselves for forensic examinations and receive medical treatment without first contacting the police.

“The committee is keen to explore the benefits of this process and how it might be helpful for victims.

“We are also interested in hearing if there are any issues which may arise from the Bill and would particularly like to hear from victims’ support groups, health boards, legal bodies and police authorities.”

The closing date for views will be 30th January 2020. To get in touch with the committee click here.

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