Local MSP Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservative, and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice, has commented after a report from HMICS on the treatment of victims of sexual assault in Scotland.
The review looked into how victims of sexual crime receive medical attention while forensic evidence is also gathered for possible prosecution.
It found that the services offered in Scotland lagged way behind those in the rest of the UK, and highlighted an urgent need to find appropriate healthcare facilities for forensic medical examinations.
It also mentioned examples of some victims being asked not to wash for a day or more after an assault. Concerns have been raised for some time about the inappropriateness of sexual assault victims in Orkney and Shetland having to be escorted to the mainland without washing prior to being assessed for forensic evidence.
The Scottish Conservatives have said the report must act as a ‘wake-up call’ for the Scottish Government, and asked them to outline how they plan to improve services in the immediate future.
Commenting Douglas Ross said:
“This is a damning report that gives us further insight into the appalling treatment received by victims of sexual assault. It has rightly been a major issue for some time that victims in Orkney and Shetland have to travel to the mainland to undergo forensic tests and are unable to wash after a sexual assault or rape to preserve evidence.”
“These individuals have already been through a traumatic experience, so for them to be treated in this manner is simply inexcusable. I know efforts are ongoing to have forensic testing carried out on the islands again as is done on the Western Isles but this report shows there is still a long way to go to improve the standard of service.”
“Examples highlighted in the report of victims being asked not to wash for over a day after an assault is cruel in the extreme, and the SNP need to use this as a wake-up call.”
“When the facilities in Scotland are described as unacceptable and far worse than those in the rest of the UK, there is no excuse for the catalogue of failings in this report.”
“If we don’t see improvements soon we risk seeing further examples of victims being let down when they need support the most and possibly deterred from reporting their assault.”
Orkney Rape Crisis Service contact details
Sexual violence affects more people in our community that we imagine. Confidential support and advocacy for anyone from age 13. Whether recent or long ago. Whether you report or choose not to. We believe you.
Mon – Fri 9.30-4.30pm
www.orkneyrapecrisis.scot or call
Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline 08088 01 03 02 6pm till midnight