Sexual Assault Referral Centres in the UK by Anna Graham

UK model
Model UK

Sexual Assault Referral Centres in the UK by Anna Graham

Sexual Assault Referral Centres in the UK by Anna Graham

History of SARCs

The first SARC was opened in 1986 in Manchester in the UK. A few others opened in the proceeding 14 years but only with a change in government policy from 2000 onwards were significantly more opened. There are now 48 SARCs across the UK seeing women, men and children for forensic medical examinations, immediate medical care and some support functions.

There is also a network of rape crisis centres (RCCs) which differ from SARCs, offering support to victims of sexual violence, but not offering medical or forensic care.

Funding of SARCs UK

SARCs are state funded, usually jointly by the police and the health sector under local agreements. RCCs are charitable organisations which do not receive direct government funding and rely on donations.


As with all state funded departments, SARCs are accountable to the government (and ultimately, it’s citizens). The Department of Health, NHS England and the Care Quality Commission regulate SARCs.

The Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine (FFLM) was established in 2006 as a faculty of the Royal College of Physicians. The FFLM is a charity set up to develop and maintain the highest possible standards of competence and professional integrity in forensic and legal medicine. They produce guidelines, teaching, a journal and other material for SARCs to follow.

Facilities and Services Offered

Services offered:

•          24 hour helpline

•          Assessment for people who’ve been raped or sexually assaulted in past 12 months

•          Forensic Medical Examinations within 90 minutes

•          Follow-up care, including counselling, tests and treatment

•          Confidentiality

•          If assault > 12 months ago, information on other organisations that can help

•          Self help guide for victims of rape and sexual assault

Staffing and Responsibilities

•          Sexual Offences Examiner (SOE) –

              o        Usually a doctor (sometimes a nurse)

               o        Performs FME / documentation/ medical care/ writes statements/ court

•          Crisis Worker (CW) –

    o       Usually a nurse

    o       Prepares room – sterilization/ support for the client/ prepares all samples/ assists SOE

•          Psychologist

             – For follow up of clients

•          Independent Sexual Violence Advocate

             – For support through the legal system

•          Admin/ Receptionist/ Managers


•          Proformas and checklists to ensure nothing is missed:

– Emergency contraception

– STI screen

– PEPSE / Hep Booster


– Samples checked

-Short Forensic Report

– Referrals and Follow Ups

•          Short Forensic Report which contains all information needed for the courts (developed in conjunction with judges and police)

•          Back-up copies / computer / filing cabinet