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Sexual assault forensic centres failing victims

A BBC investigation has uncovered serious issues with many of the specialist centres set up to handle forensics and evidence taking following a sexual assault.

The sexual assault referral centres known as SARCs across England and parts of Wales provide indispensable support for the police who would otherwise have to take victims through NHS hospital clinics. The SARCs operate 24/7 and specially trained medics are supposed to be on hand at all times.

Most victims of sexual assault rape or abuse that report the matter to police soon after contact with the offender will be referred to a SARC in order to provide after care and take crucial forensic evidence which may help the case.

The BBC investigation showed that many of these centres are operated by private companies and often are not adequately staffed. In up to a quarter of cases reviewed by one doctor there were significant issues which would have led to either corrupted or useless evidence and very poor management of the victims whilst at their most vulnerable.

Many victims are children and some of the findings are extremely distressing.

Did your police case fail due to forensic errors or mismanagement of evidence? You may be able to claim damages. For advice on your rights to compensation following a rape assault - contact our team on 01423 593002.

NHS England - which commissions services with Police and Crime Commissioners - said it had not been made aware of any of these concerns.

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