Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS)
Something to consider if you are unsure about reporting...
The decision to report to the Police immediately after a rape may feel overwhelming.
If you are unsure about whether or not you feel ready to report, it is possible to self-refer to the SARCS (Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service). This means you don’t need a GP or other healthcare professional to refer you to a SARCS - you can do this yourself.
SARCS can help facilitate access to a forensic medical examination (FME) without having to report to the Police if you have been raped or sexually assaulted within the last 7 days. The evidence that is gathered is then stored anonymously and can be accessed at a future date if a decision to report is made. You can also be supported with other immediate healthcare needs, such as emergency contraception, and they can also refer you to support services like ours.
RASAC P&K can also support survivors aged 16+ within Perth and Kinross to refer to SARCS if they do not want to contact SARCS themselves. We can also accompany you to the FME if you would like someone with you. An important part of what we do is to support you to consider all your options before making any decisions.
You can phone the dedicated NHS telephone number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and speak to a specially trained healthcare professional who can help to arrange the care you might need.
You can find more information about how to self-refer to a SARCS on the NHS Inform website www.nhsinform.scot/sarcs or you can call them on the dedicated number, free from landlines and mobiles.
Alternatively, we can support you with reporting or accessing SARCS through our Justice Advocacy Service.
Useful contacts in this section:
- SARCS: 0800 148 88 88 (24/7)
- RASAC P&K Helpline: 01738 630965 (9am-5pm weekdays - you may need to leave a message)
- RASAC P&K Support Email: Support@rasacpk.org.uk
- Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline: 08088 01 03 02 (7 day 5pm - midnight)
You can contact us for further information and support. We Listen, Believe and Support.
If you would like to know more about forensic medical examinations please read below...
Forensic Medical Services Act
What is the Forensic Medical Services Act and what it does mean for survivors?
The Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021 is a change in the law which came in to effect on 1st April 2022.
The Act changes the way that survivors can access Forensic Medical Exams (FMEs) after rape or sexual assault.
A Forensic Medical Examination (FME) is an examination performed by a specially trained healthcare professional to collect forensic evidence after a rape or sexual assault. You can usually access an FME for up to 7 days after the assault(s). After this window, it is unlikely (but not impossible) that evidence could be gathered.
Survivors over the age of 16 can self-refer for FMEs, meaning that you don't need to make any immediate decisions about whether to report to the police. A specially trained nurse will be with you throughout your FME appointment, and you can bring someone with you for support.
Any forensic evidence collected will be stored securely by the SARCS for 26 months from the day of your FME. This evidence will not be reviewed or analysed unless you decide to report to the police. SARCS is a confidential NHS service, meaning that the police and other agencies will not know unless you decide to tell them. In certain circumstances, a healthcare professional might have to tell them if you or others are at risk of further harm, but they should speak with you about this and keep you informed.
If you decide not to report before the end of the 26 months, you can choose to have your evidence destroyed or for certain evidence (such as personal items or clothing) to be returned to you. After the 26 months, your evidence will have been safely destroyed, but you will still have the option of reporting to the police.
Forensic Medical Examinations (FMEs) can be accessed through the NHS Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS). You can refer yourself to SARCS by calling their dedicated number, free from landlines and mobiles. 0800 148 88 88 (available 24/7). SARCS will also meet your other immediate healthcare needs, such as emergency contraception, and refer you to support services like ours.
Why is self-referral so important? Making the decision about whether or not to report a rape or sexual assault can be really difficult, but forensic evidence is time-sensitive. Self-referral means that you can make sure forensic evidence is captured and wait to make a decision until you are ready. For many years, survivors - including the Survivor Reference Group - as well as organisations like ours, have campaigned to improve forensic responses to rape and sexual assault. We want to pay tribute to everyone who has made this change possible.
Remember: No one should ever pressure you in to reporting to the police.
Our specially trained advocacy worker can talk you through your options and what to expect if you're thinking of reporting. We're here for you, no matter what. We Listen, Believe and Support.
Please note that prior to 1st April 2022 SARCS was known as SARN (Sexual Assault Referral Network) within the Tayside area. SARN has now been replaced by SARCS and all SARN contact details are no longer in use. Please use SARCS contacts details (as above) to find out more about this service or make an self referral after a sexual assault or rape.
If you are looking to refer any young person (12+) or adult woman to RASAC for Support please ensure you fill in all relevant sections of our referral form and ensure that the individual you are referring signs the form. We aim to offer an initial appointment to the individual within two to three weeks.