Press Release

Sexual Assault Treatment Services – A National Review

Mr. Seán Power TD, Minster of State at the Department of Health and Children and Mr. Frank Fahey TD, Minster of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform today (20th June, 2006) jointly launched a report into the treatment services available to victims of recent sexual crime.

Today’s report, Sexual Assault Treatment Services – A National Review, was commissioned by the National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women, which is chaired by Minister Fahey. The Review Committee consisted of senior practitioners from within the health services, the Gardaí, the Forensic Science Laboratory and senior officials from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Health and Children.

This is a complex and sensitive area which provides vital services and support to people in crisis.

The response to sexual assault involves close collaboration between the Gardaí, Health Services and the wider criminal judicial system. The report sets out clearly their respective roles and the co-operation required between them. This ensures that in the course of their treatment and in the collection of evidence, victims are treated in a sensitive and caring way and are provided with the necessary emotional and psychological support.

The report recommends the establishment of two further Sexual Assault Treatment Units, one each in Galway and the Midlands, to supplement the four units that already exist throughout the country. This will ensure a more responsive service with shorter waiting times for a number of victims of recent sexual crime. The HSE are currently examining this proposal with view to securing funding in 2007.

The report also recommends that nurses should be trained to specialise in forensic clinical examinations of victims of recent sexual crime and to give expert evidence in court. The HSE is actively engaged in developing this proposal and is currently costing the numerous aspects to it.

Minster Power emphasised the importance of implementing these recommendations “so that we can offer an equitable and holistic service to those who have been injured and traumatised by the perpetrators of a truly appalling crime.”

Minister Fahey added that he would “be reviewing the recommendations in the SATU Report which relate to the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform and the criminal justice system to see how they might best be implemented.”