Publication - Consultation analysis

Equally Safe - forensic medical services: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to our consultation on the retention period for evidence collected in the course of self-referral forensic medical services.

Equally Safe - forensic medical services: consultation analysis
Introduction

Introduction

1. In March 2017, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Scotland, was asked by Scottish Ministers to establish a Taskforce to provide national leadership for the improvement of healthcare and forensic medical services for those who have experienced sexual crime.

2. The CMO Taskforce vision is for consistent, person-centred, trauma-informed healthcare and forensic medical services and access to recovery, for anyone who has experienced rape or sexual assault in Scotland.

3. The work of the Taskforce is underpinned by the landmark Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021 (the "FMS Act") which was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament on 10 December 2020 and gained Royal Assent on 20 January 2021.

4. Once commenced, the FMS Act will place a statutory duty on health boards to provide access to person-centred, trauma-informed healthcare and forensic medical examinations for victims of sexual crime, and will establish a legal framework for consistent access to "self-referral" for those aged 16 and over, subject to professional judgement. This will mean that a person can access healthcare and request a forensic medical examination without first making a report to the police.

5. On 5 February 2021 the Scottish Government launched a public consultation to seek views on how long health boards should retain evidence taken during a self-referral forensic medical examination for victims of rape and sexual assault: this is referred to as the "retention period". The Scottish Parliament agreed during the Bill process for the FMS Act that the retention period would be set in regulations, rather than being specified on the face of the Act, to provide flexibility on this matter.

6. The consultation proposed a retention period of 26 months (2 years and 2 months). This was based on evidence drawn from best practice across the UK and internationally; clinical guidance; and took account of survivors' views. The consultation paper set out that the retention period should be proportionate and that it will be nationally applied across Scotland.

7. The consultation closed on 30 April 2021 and received 63 responses from 30 individuals and 33 organisations. Views gathered from the consultation will be used to inform the production of regulations that will set out what the nationally applied retention period will be and which will be approved by the Scottish Parliament.

8. The consultation paper was published in two formats, a full version and an easy read version, produced with People First (Scotland). The questions in each version of the consultation paper varied slightly due to the nature of the papers. Unless stated otherwise, references to the "consultation responses" relates to collated views from both papers.

The full consultation paper contained four questions asking:

  • If respondents agreed with the proposed 26 month retention period.
  • If respondents thought that the period should be shorter – what should it be?
  • If respondents said that the period should be longer – what should it be?
  • For views on potential impacts of the proposals which were not sufficiently covered in the previously published impact assessments.

The easy read consultation contained three questions asking:

  • If respondents agreed with the proposed 26 month retention period.
  • If respondents disagreed with it – what should it be?
  • Why they felt that way.

9. Not all of the questions were answered by respondents and some respondents used the free text boxes in order to express views or raise related issues.

10. The responses collated from both versions of the consultation to the key question: "Do you agree with the proposal that the retention period for evidence collected in the course of self-referral forensic medical services be 26 months (2 years, 2 months)?" indicated that over 50% of respondents supported the proposed 26 months.

  No. of responses % of total responses
Yes 32 50.8%
No - Should be shorter 3 4.8%
No - should be longer 23 36.5%
Unsure 1 1.6%
No answer 4 6.3%
Total responses 63 100%

Impact assessments

11. In addition to seeking views on the retention period, respondents were asked in the full consultation paper for views on potential impacts of the proposals which were not sufficiently covered in the impact assessments that had been published in November 2019, to accompany the introduction of the Bill for the FMS Act, on child rights and wellbeing[1], data protection[2], equality[3], socio-economic equality (the Fairer Scotland Duty)[4] and people in rural or island communities[5].

12. There were no new or updated impact assessments suggested by any of the respondents to the full questionnaire. Some respondents expressed concerns about groups covered by the previous impact assessments as part of their wider response and these have been taken into account as part of the analysis.


Contact

Email: EquallySafeFMS@gov.scot