Forensic medical services for victims of sexual offences

Improving healthcare services for victims of sexual offences is a priority for us. We want to make sure that timely healthcare support, including a forensic medical examination, is available to victims of rape and sexual assault, and child sexual abuse, whether or not they have reported the crime to the police or are undecided about doing so.

To support this ambition, the landmark Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021 was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament on 10 December 2020 and received Royal Assent on 20 January 2020. Read the news release about the Bill being passed.

Work now advances to implement the FMS Act.  We ran a public  consultation on the retention period for evidence collected in the course of self-referral forensic medical services between 5 February and  30 April 2021.  Where we have been given permission, responses will be published in due course along with an analysis report.  Further updates will be posted on this webpage.

The FMS Act underpins the ongoing work of the CMO Rape and Sexual Assault Taskforce, to provide national leadership for the improvement of healthcare and forensic medical services for victims of sexual crime, chaired by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Scotland, Dr Gregor Smith. 

Act background

The Bill for the FMS Act was introduced to the Scottish Parliament in November 2019. Read the news story about the introduction of the Bill. Read the news release about the Bill passing Stage 1.

An easy read summary of the Bill was created to ensure as many people as possible could understand what the Bill is about. Copies of the Bill, the policy memorandum and other accompanying documents are available from the Scottish Parliament’s website. See also the Bill webpage of the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee.  

Five impact assessments were published in November 2019 to accompany the introduction of the Bill:

A revised data protection impact assessment was published in November 2020.

Policy background

The FMS Act follows our 2019 consultation on legislation to improve forensic medical services for victims of rape and sexual assaultRead the news story relating to the publication of the 2019 consultation paper.

The 2019 consultation, which closed in May 2019, addressed recommendations made by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICS) in its 2017 report: strategic overview of the provision of forensic medical services to victims of sexual crime.

Where we have been given permission to do so, we have published responses to the 2019 consultation on our consultation hub. We have also published an analysis of the key 2019 consultation findings.

The FMS Act wholly delivers against one and partially against another of the ten HMICS recommendations. The CMO Taskforce has the wider responsibility to deliver against the remaining eight HMICS recommendations.

Developments on the FMS Act implementation can be tracked with twitter hashtag #EquallySafeFMS

The FMS Act Implementation Team maintain an email contact list and should you wish to be added to this list or should you have any other enquiries about the Bill please contact Read the Team's privacy notice.

Rape Crisis Scotland can provide practical advice and emotional support for anyone affected by sexual violence, no matter when or how it happened. The Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline can be reached on 08088 01 03 02 or alternatively, can be emailed at For further information you can visit the Rape Crisis Scotland website.

Victim Support Scotland offer free confidential, emotional, practical support and information for anyone affected by crime. Their trained volunteers can provide support in a number of ways; to find out more you may wish to visit the Victim Support Scotland website or you can contact their helpline on 0800 160 1985.