Improving Forensic Services for Children in Orkney

Improving how forensic examination services are delivered for children and young people in the islands will be taken forward by The Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans (Keith Brown).

The matter was raised in the Scottish Parliament by Orkney Constituency MSP Liam McArthur, LibDem. In response to a question by Liam McArthur Keith Brown said:

“Child-centred and trauma-informed healthcare is at the centre of the current paediatric services that are provided to children and young people in Scotland who experience child sexual abuse. The national pathway for clinicians supporting children who have experienced child sexual abuse was published in November 2020 and makes it clear that the wellbeing of the child is paramount through each step of the process.”

Liam McArthur had inquired about the use of telecare services so that children and young people would not need to be flown out of the islands when assessing their needs where there is a questions of physical neglect for example.

Confirming that he would take the issue up with the Lord Advocate and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Keith Brown said:

” An important point, which the member has previously acknowledged, is that there have been substantial improvements in relation to adults’ services, but there is a continuing need to work on making sure that we have the same level of service for children. I am more than happy to take up the issues with the Lord Advocate and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, as the member has outlined.”

Commenting after the exchange Liam McArthur said:

“For too long, victims of rape or sexual violence in Orkney had no choice but to travel south for forensic examination which often added to the trauma they had already felt. Important progress has since been achieved with a local service now in place for adult survivors and I pay tribute to all involved in making this happen.

“However, it is important to recognise that younger survivors of sexual abuse or assault in the isles must still undergo forensic examination south. In part, this reflects the added complexities in the delivery of paediatric services.  

“There is though more that can be done to improve services locally. It is important that obstacles to trialling new options, including the use of tele-health, are removed wherever possible.

“In that context, I welcome the Justice Secretary’s agreement to work with the Lord Advocate and Health Secretary on these issues. Even if this is only in relation to victims of neglect, it could lead to a better experience and better outcomes for children and young people in Orkney who are affected.”

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