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Sexual Assault Referral Centres

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Department of Health's responsibility for sexual assault referral centres includes responsibility for the care of children and young people who have been sexually assaulted. [HL705]

The Government have committed to rolling out a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in each police force area by 2011. The Department of Health, Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service work closely together on this programme with advice from the Department for Children, Schools and Families on the specific needs of children and young people where required.

Responsibility for the commissioning of Sexual Assault Referral Centres lies in the partnership of police forces, primary care trusts and local authorities. SARCs can be established to provide services to victims of all ages. Quite often, children who may have been sexually abused may have experienced other forms of abuse and would require a co-ordinated multi-disciplinary and multi-agency approach to their care. SARCs which provide services to children and young people need to take account of national guidance in Working Together to Safeguard Children, clinical guidelines from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and guidelines from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH).

The Department of Health, Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) jointly published a guide in October 2009, which sets out the minimum elements essential for providing high quality Sexual Assault Referral Centres for adults and children who are victims of sexual assault. A copy of the guide has been placed in the Library.