New Forth Valley Centre Leads the Way in Supporting Victims of Sexual Crimes

People who have experienced a sexual assault are set to benefit from a new Forth Valley facility, which could become a blueprint for Health Boards across Scotland. The facility, which is known as the Meadows, was officially opened today by Jeane Freeman MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and the Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, who leads the rape and sexual assault taskforce, was also in attendance. It will be run by NHS Forth Valley in partnership with Police Scotland and the voluntary sector.

The Meadows will provide a comprehensive range of services and support for adults and children who have experienced rape, sexual assault or gender-based violence, including victims of historic sexual abuse. These will be provided in a comfortable, less clinical environment with improved facilities for forensic medical examinations and interviews. This includes a separate area for children where specially trained staff can carry out interviews and gather video evidence. NHS staff will be based within the centre to provide support and access to a wider range of health services. In addition, voluntary organisations, such as Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis, will also have access to accommodation within the centre where they will be able to provide advice and counselling in a quiet and confidential setting.

Located in a discreet location a short distance from Forth Valley Royal Hospital, the development of the Meadows is part of an £8.5m investment by the Scottish Government’s to improve services for victims of sexual crime across the country. This includes a commitment to move Forensic Medical Examination suites out of Police Stations and into more appropriate health and social care settings.

NHS Forth Valley’s Chief Executive, Cathie Cowan, said: “This first-class facility will provide a safe and comfortable environment where people can access the support and services they require at this very distressing time. It is the culmination of many months of detailed planning and consultation with a wide range of partners and I would like to personally thank everyone involved in developing this important new facility which I hope will become a role model for the rest of Scotland.”

Ms Freeman said: “Facilities like The Meadows are really important in protecting and supporting people both at the time of reporting the rape or sexual assault and in providing the care and support they need on an ongoing basis to support their recovery. I am very encouraged by the exemplary commitment that everyone involved here has shown to developing a service which puts the needs of the victim first.

“We want to encourage victims of rape or sexual assault to feel able to come forward and it is vital that they are able to access the right support when they need it. That’s why have launched a consultation to strengthen delivery of healthcare and forensic medical services so we increase our understanding of what is needed.”

Assistant Chief Constable, Gillian MacDonald, said: “One of Police Scotland’s top priorities is tackling all forms of sexual crime, while at the same time, providing victims with the highest levels of support, sensitivity and professionalism.”

“The opening of The Meadows facility in Forth Valley demonstrates the commitment of public protection partners to offer a more appropriate and comfortable setting to victims of sexual crime where they can access the services and support required. It is our sincere hope that it becomes the benchmark for similar facilities across Scotland.”