Sexual crimes medical unit opened in Livingston

A specialist medical unit for victims of sexual crime has been opened, a move which police hope will help improve confidence in reporting offences.

The new suite in Livingston, West Lothian, is the first of its type in the area and is designed to make victims, including children, more comfortable by being able to examine and interview them in the same location while collecting vital evidence.

Previously, victims were taken to either St John’s hospital or to a facility in Edinburgh, which could result in long waiting times or delays in examination, said Lothian and Borders Police.

They can now attend the suite at the West Lothian Civic Centre in complete anonymity as access is through a specially-created corridor away from the main entrance.

Detective Inspector Matt Paden said: “We know how utterly traumatising sexual violence can be and we are committed to providing a victim-focused approach to ensure we make the whole investigation and examination experience as comfortable as possible.

“The specialist examination suite will not only hopefully improve confidence in reporting, but also help us in gathering as much vital evidence as possible to assist us in successfully prosecuting perpetrators. The unique partnership approach that exists within West Lothian has been key to making this a reality, with vital funding and support being provided by a range of partner organisations.”

It is also hoped the suite will help build on improving conviction rates and assist the specialist sexual crime unit in West Lothian.

Melanie Hornett, nurse director at NHS Lothian, said: “NHS Lothian welcomes this new facility and the benefits it will bring. Medical and forensic care will be offered at the most appropriate time, closer to the victim’s home and in an appropriately sensitive environment. We will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to drive this project forward.”

The facility was funded by a number of agencies including West Lothian Council social work department and NHS Lothian.

Danny Logue, executive councillor for social policy, said: “The new suite allows us to provide a local, joint response to victims of domestic and sexual violence to help make their experiences a little less difficult. It will enhance our ability to respond effectively and better protect West Lothian’s women and children.”