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Nurses pilot pioneering rape forensic service

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Nurses at a Yorkshire walk in centre have been trained to take forensic samples as part of a pilot scheme on sexual abuse and rape.

Four nurses at the Castle Health Centre in Scarborough will offer to take photos of bruising, swabs from cuts, nail cuttings, damaged clothing and other potential evidence in situations where a patient discloses that they  have been sexually abused or raped, but do not want to report it to the police.

The samples will then be securely stored and ultimately could be used as evidence if the patient later changes their mind and the police investigate.

Lead nurse Nikki Milner said the scheme was set up after nursing staff at the centre saw a number of women seeking emergency contraception or treatment for injuries who said they had been raped or assaulted – but were not willing to report it to the police.  

The centre’s nurses have received training from North Yorkshire Police to take the samples and then store them securely in a dedicated lockable fridge and freezer. They also keep notes of what the patient has told them.

The scheme started last month and will be evaluated later this year.

Julie Bolus, director of nursing for NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: “We hope that the service will not only provide extra care and reassurance for victims of rape and sexual assault, but also lead to the prosecution of those responsible.”

There are around 150 reported rapes a year in the North Yorkshire area but many more are thought not to be reported.

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