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Drug Rape

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police forces are equipped with readily available test kits to secure samples in the event of a complaint of drug rape. [129615]

Twenty six police forces have ordered the Early Evidence Kit produced by the Forensic Science Service Scenesafe Unit. Scenesafe are the only suppliers of Early Evidence Kits approved by the Association of Chief Police Officers.Another supplier, Tetra, sell separate modules and some forces use Tetra's urine and mouth modules to make up their own kit. It is not known how many forces have done this, but the Forensic Science Service estimate that most forces have access to one or other kit.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training in the specific handling of cases of drug rape is available to police forces; how many forces have taken up such training; and for what level of officer. [129616]

Training for investigators in the handling of allegations of drug induced rape is contained within the Initial Crime Investigators Development Programme (ICIDP). This is a national programme, launched in February 2003 and endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The training includes a knowledge of the various drugs that may he used and their effects; evidential and forensic considerations; and issues concerning victim care and evidence.The training of uniformed officers who deal with sexual offence investigation (variously known as SOIT, SOLO or chaperones) is not currently delivered to a national programme. However, forces deliver a range of appropriate local training, including sexual offence training and drug induced rape issues. Numbers of forces providing such training are not currently known, but it features in a wide range of force training programmes.Training for those officers, to agreed national standards, is currently being developed within the Sexual Offences Training Project at the Centre for Investigative Skills, National Specialist Law Enforcement Centre (NCPE). This is part of the response to the Home Office Action Plan to implement the recommendations of the HMCPSI/HMIC joint investigation into the investigation and prosecution of cases involving allegations of rape.'Early Evidence Kits', developed by the Forensic Science Service in conjunction with the Police Service, have been available since 2002.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to ensure that early support is available to the victims of drug rape who do not intend to report the matter to the police. [129625]

Victims of drug rape currently have access to all the support services available to victims of any type of sexual offence. These include local GP and hospital services, Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs), Victim Support and NHS Direct, all of which will support victims of any sexual crime, whether or not they intend to report the matter to the police. In addition, there are local rape crisis centres in some parts of the country providing services for women only or which are geared towards the needs of particular groups, such as people with disabilities.

In July, the Home Office published a new national strategy, 'A new deal for victims and witnesses', which sets out our plans for ensuring that victims and witnesses of crime—including victims of sexual offences—get a better deal in future. One of the issues identified in the strategy is the need to ensure that there is better support for victims of sexual offences, including increased access to Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) and rape crisis centres.

As well as supporting the further roll out of Sexual Assault Referral Centres and improving access to other forms of support, the Home Office also intends to set up a national helpline for victims of sexual offences.