Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez today visited Plymouth SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) to see first- hand the work that goes on there to support people who have been sexual assaulted.
Since opening on 6th February 2019, the dedicated team of 4 NHS crisis workers at Plymouth SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) have received 604 referrals for Plymouth residents supporting women, men and children after sexual assault.
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March this year caused a brief dip in the number of people seeking medical care or support after sexual assault however Lyndsay Howell Devon & Cornwall SARC General Manager reports that referral levels are now back up to pre-covid levels.
“It’s come as something of a relief” she explained “we know that levels of sexual assault haven’t decreased during the pandemic, so it’s reassuring that people are now back to feeling confident about coming to us for medical care and support”
The SARC continues to run and treat visitors regardless of lock-down levels or the circumstances of any assault that may have taken place.
“We’d like to reassure anyone out there who has experienced sexual assault that we are here to care for you and support you no matter what the circumstances. Robust plans are in place for safe management of anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 and you will always be believed and treated with care and respect”.
Alison Hernandez commented “These are very serious crimes and we take all reports of rape and sexual assault seriously, no matter when they happened or who you are. We also investigate reports of rape or sexual assault that might have happened a long time ago and we would urge you to contact us or the SARC if you, or someone you know has been sexually assaulted”.
A SARC provides immediate medical care, forensic examination, guidance and advice from NHS professionals for anyone who has experienced sexual assault. The website www.sarchelp.co.uk and the SARC advice line on 0300 303 4626 are staffed 24/7 with experienced crisis workers for members of the public to discuss their options following sexual assault or rape.
The SARC works closely with Devon and Cornwall Police who have specially trained officers to help and advise, although it is very much up to the individual about whether the police are involved or not.
A Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides services to victims/survivors of rape or sexual assault. Sexual Assault Referral Centres are designed to be comfortable and multi-functional, providing private space for interviews and medical forensic examinations, as well as advice support and counselling services. “SARC”s have specialist staff that are trained to help you make informed decisions about what you want to do next.
Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) provides a full range of acute services and integrated health and social care services in northern Devon, with 3,000 staff serving a population of over 160,000. The Trust also provides various specialist services across the whole of Devon, including podiatry, sexual health services and the Devon & Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centres.