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Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether reports of drug rape since 2001 have involved the presence of a drug which had not before been known as a drug rape drug.[129668]

[holding answer 16 September 2003]:A large number of sedative drugs (controlled and medicinal) could potentially be used to facilitate rape. The Forensic Science Service say that no new drug is being regularly detected in cases of drug rape reported to them over the last two years.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether forensic medical examiners are in receipt of specific training about the symptoms and effects of drugs which have been used in rape cases.[129672]

[holding answer 16 September 2003]:The Forensic Science Service (FSS) is developing a Toxicology Awareness module to be incorporated into Forensic Medical Examiner training, which is currently supplied by FSS. The aims of the module are to discuss case results specific to the police force concerned and compare these with national results, thereby raising general awareness.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of forensic nurses in supporting rape complainants.[129781]

The Violence against Women Initiative under the Crime Reduction Programme has funded projects to provide support to victims of rape and sexual assault, and to find out what works in reducing attrition within the criminal justice system. One of these projects, St. Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Manchester, has trained a female nurse to conduct forensic examinations and provide evidence in court. The findings from the evaluation of this project are expected to be published at the end of this year.