Scottish justice secretary visits Larbert centre which supports victims of sexual assault

The pioneering work of The Meadows in helping provide person centred and trauma informed care to victims of rape and sexual assault was praised by Scotland’s justice minister this week.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 12:43 pm

MSP Keith Brown visited the facility in Larbert to see first hand the work being taken forward by the chief medical officer’s rape and sexual assault taskforce to better support victims.

The Meadows, which has been held up as a national model of best practice ever since its launch in 2019, 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.

Thanks to The Meadows, people who have fallen victim to sexual crimes no longer have to have an examination at Falkirk Police Station, and the centre is now seen as a blueprint for other sexual assault response coordination services across Scotland.

Scottish justice secretary Keith Brown joins centre manager Hazel Somerville at The Meadows

Like The Meadow, these centres provide a comfortable, less clinical environment with improved facilities for healthcare forensic medical examinations and interviews, and are now being rolled out across the country, supported by £10 million of Scottish Government funding.

People will also be able to use The Meadows and the other centres to request a forensic medical examination without having to report a crime under the landmark Forensic Medical Services Act, once it has commenced.

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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.”

The Meadows manager Hazel Somerville, NHS Forth Valley’s gender based violence lead, 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, added: “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.”

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