What happens at the SARC
A police officer, social worker or trusted adult, will bring you to the Oak Centre where you will be met by one of our forensic nurses who will welcome you into the waiting room and organise some refreshments. You can discuss any immediate worries or concerns with your forensic nurse, and any urgent issues that arise will be dealt with immediately.
Then we will explain what will happen when the doctor (Forensic Practitioner) joins you and what is involved in the examination. The examination will only take place with your consent and will be carried out in a sensitive and respectful way. Also, you can stop the process at any time or change your mind about an examination.
A specially trained police officer (Sexual Offence Liaison Officer, or Solo) will also be at the Oak Centre to meet with the doctor while you are with the nurse. The Solo will give some details of the assault to help the doctor consider what medical needs you may have and what samples to take during the examination. However, you may be asked about the assault further by the doctor so they can get all the necessary information. The doctor and Solo will then leave the waiting room to prepare the medical room.
If you have any worries now, your nurse can discuss these with you so you feel comfortable about the examination. The role of an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) is also explained to you and you will be offered a referral to an ISVA. For this, your nurse will need to take a few details, including your name, date of birth and a safe telephone number and address, so that an ISVA can make contact with you in the next few days. You will have any necessary consent forms explained to you before you or a trusted adult sign them. Your nurse will then ask you who you would like to be with you during the examination.
When you are ready the doctor will invite you into the examination room. The examination is carried out by a fully-trained and experienced, qualified forensic doctor. We understand – and it is completely normal – that you might feel uncomfortable about the examination, but every effort is made to ensure you are as comfortable as possible and understand what is happening and why. Remember, you can stop the examination at any time and your nurse and trusted adult will be with you throughout it, if you wish. The examination may include the following:
A head-to-toe check for injury
Measuring your height and weight
Taking a urine sample and/or blood sample
Carrying out a pregnancy test
Deciding with you if emergency contraception (morning-after pill) is needed
Deciding with you if any treatment is needed to help reduce the chances of your developing sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), HIV or hepatitis B infection from the assault
Deciding with you what forensic samples should be taken
All samples are passed to the Solo, labelled and bagged in accordance with very strict forensic procedures. Any clothes that might be needed as evidence are also put into police evidence bags and labelled along with what you wear for the examination.
The doctor will also write a brief report that will help in any investigation. If the investigation goes to court then the doctor may be requested to provide a statement, which is likely to include medical details.
The examination can seem frightening – many people worry a lot about it. Please remember that you are in control of everything that happens at the Oak Centre and we will take it at your own pace. You can stop the examination at any time, but you can also re-start it if you wish to. It may take a while, but we will discuss everything with you before we start and during the examination. You and your wellbeing is what is important to us, and we will ensure you are treated with dignity and respect throughout.
After the examination
Following the examination, your nurse will offer you a shower and provide you with toiletries and towels. Clothing can also be provided if yours are taken for evidence and you have not brought any of your own.
You can return to the waiting room and join any friends or family that you brought with you. Further refreshments will also be provided if you wish.
The doctor will then provide you with the medications discussed with you during the examination, if you choose to have them, and advise you on any medical treatment.
When you are ready, either the Solo or another police officer will take you home.
How long does it all take?
You will usually spend a few hours in total at the Oak Centre, as we go at your pace and believe it is important that you don’t feel rushed.