Praise for The Meadows
A pioneering NHS Forth Valley centre for people who have experienced rape or sexual assault has been praised by Justice Secretary Keith Brown ahead of a roll out of similar services across Scotland.
Mr Brown visited The Meadows to experience the work being taken forward by the Chief Medical Officer’s Rape and Sexual Assault Taskforce to better support victims.
The Meadows, based at Larbert, near Falkirk, was held up as a national model of best practice following its launch in 2019.
It provides a comprehensive range of services and support for adults and children who have experienced rape, sexual assault or gender-based violence, including historic sexual abuse.
People no longer have to have an examination at Falkirk Police Station and the centre is seen as a blueprint for other Sexual Assault Response Coordination Services across Scotland.
The centres, which provide a comfortable, less clinical environment with improved facilities for healthcare forensic medical examinations and interviews, are being rolled out across the country, supported by £10 million Scottish Government funding.
People can also use the centres to request a forensic medical examination without having to report a crime under the landmark Forensic Medical Services Act, once commenced.
Mr Brown said: “The health and wellbeing of sexual assault victims must be our priority if justice is truly to be served.
“To enable victims to come forward it is vital that they are treated with compassion, respect and are properly supported from the moment any sexual assault is reported.
“Pioneering facilities like The Meadows are a beacon of the model we would like to see across Scotland.
“It has been recognised nationally as a model of best practice and provides a comprehensive, responsive, person centred, and trauma informed service to victims in a safe and comfortable environment during a distressing time.
“It is clear from this visit the excellent and important work all the staff do, and I’d like to thank each and every one for their tireless commitment to improving the care and support available for sexual assault victims.”
Hazel Somerville, NHS Forth Valley’s Gender Based Violence Lead and manager of The Meadows, said: “More than 100 people have accessed support and services at The Meadows since it opened in April 2019.
“As well as providing important initial examination services we also provide a wide range of emotional health care support.
“We’re delighted to see the approach we have taken in NHS Forth Valley being adopted in other parts of Scotland.”
Detective Chief Inspector David MacGregor, of Police Scotland, said: “This centre provides pivotal support to both adults and children who have experienced rape or sexual assault.
“The facility also allows police to move forensic medical examination suites into a local NHS community-based facility where victims have access to a number of key services.
“Police Scotland is committed to tackling all forms of sexual crimes and we will continue to work with our partners at the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland to offer people the best services specific to their needs.”
The Meadows brings together a number of services including forensic-medical examination services, video and interview facilities and a separate area for children. It has been developed with input from a range of partners including Police Scotland, support groups, dementia services, learning disability and people with lived experience.
The £10m of Scottish Government funding was for the four-year period 2018-2019 to 2021-22.
The Forensic Medical Services Act which passed unanimously, places a duty on health boards to give victims direct access to trauma-informed, person-centred forensic medical examination services and to retain certain evidence where a victim is undecided about reporting to the police.
Further information on the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021 can be found here.