Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS): information

This leaflet provides information on how to Self-refer to a Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS). It provides information on accessing healthcare through NHS Scotland for anyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted.

Important Information

There is a difference between a police report and a self-referral. As well as any forensic evidence obtained from a forensic medical examination, the police may be able to gather other evidence as part of their investigation (such as CCTV footage, crime scene evidence, bedding, or photographs on your mobile phone). These will not be collected if you self-refer to a SARCS.

How do I self-refer to a SARCS?

You can phone a dedicated NHS telephone number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and speak to a specially trained healthcare professional who can help to arrange the care you might need.

You can find more information about how to self-refer to a SARCS and the telephone number to call on the NHS inform website

What can I expect when I arrive at the SARCS?

Whether you tell the police or self-refer, the staff are there to help provide any medical, emotional or practical support you might need. A specially trained nurse will be there to support you throughout your appointment. You will be treated with compassion, dignity and respect at all times.

What will happen after the examination?

You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Any follow up healthcare appointments or referrals to other services or support will be arranged for you.

If you self-refer to a SARCS, the staff will make sure you have somewhere safe to go when you leave. They will also support you to make a police report if that’s what you decide to do.

If I self-refer to a SARCS, what will happen to any evidence collected?

Any forensic evidence taken will be stored securely in the SARCS for 26 months from the day of your examination. During that time, you can decide whether or not you want to tell the police. Your evidence will not be reviewed or analysed unless you decide to report to the police.

You can also choose to have your evidence destroyed or for certain evidence (such as personal items or clothing) to be returned to you. After the 26 months, your evidence will have been safely destroyed, but this will not prevent you from being able to make a report to the police if you decide to do so.

You may wish to talk to someone from the Rape Crisis advocacy service about what reporting to the police would involve. They can support you through the process if you decide to go ahead. Contact details for Rape Crisis are at the end of this leaflet. There may be other local support services in your area that you can contact for support.

If I self-refer to a SARCS and then decide to tell the police, what will happen next?

If you decide to make a police report within the 26-month period, you should tell the police about the examination so they can contact the SARCS you attended and request that any evidence is safely passed to them.

If the police have enough evidence to prove a crime has been committed, they will submit a report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). The COPFS will decide if there is enough evidence to prosecute the person. You will be contacted by the Victim Information and Advice Service, which is part of COPFS, who will provide you with information about the case. They can also tell you about any additional support that may be available to you.

Will anyone know if I self-refer to a sarcs?

This is a confidential NHS service and the police and other agencies will not know unless you decide to tell them. In certain circumstances, a healthcare professional may need to tell them if you or others are at risk of further harm.

If you are being coerced, forced or pressured by someone else to have sex or engage in sexual activity, the staff at the SARCS can help you. They will not tell you what to do, but can support you to contact the police if you wish to report it, or can refer you to support organisations.



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