South Scotland MSP, Emma Harper, who is also Deputy Convenor of the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, has welcomed the progress of the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill as it passed Stage 3 in the Scottish Parliament process to become law.
Ms Harper, who is also a registered nurse with over 30 year’s experience, spoke in the Stage 3 debate hailing the bill as a landmark piece of legislation which would ‘undoubtedly improve the experience of survivors of sexual crime during their journey through Scotland’s health and justice system’.
In her contribution with Members in chamber, she noted the Bill allows for far greater choice for survivors of sexual abuse.
Ms Harper, in Health and Sport Committee, held seven evidence sessions including those with survivors of sexual violence and their representative organisations, from justice and legal service providers.
The Bill enables persons who have been raped or sexually assaulted to refer themselves to their health board for a forensic medical examination, meaning they will not have to go to the police first – reducing stress, stigma and anxiety and giving people who have gone through a horrendous and traumatic experience, time to decide if they want to report an incident without losing any evidence.
With reference to Dumfries & Galloway Ms Harper talked about her visit to the Forensic Medical Services suite in Dumfries. The South Scotland MSP also met staff at Rape Crisis in Dumfries, to gain an understanding of the needs of people who have endured a sexual assault.
Emma Harper, South Scotland MSP, said;
“I was delighted to contribute to such an important debate on such a landmark piece of legislation. Our Health and Sport Committee have worked over many months, hearing a huge amount of evidence from survivors as well as representative organisations, to contribute to this Bill.
“The Bill achieves the Scottish Government’s aim of improving the overall reporting experience for survivors of sexual offences, and it will improve evidence gathering and increase the number of successful prosecutions.
“Earlier in the year I was invited to visit the Forensic Health suite in Dumfries and I commend the work being done by those with such huge responsibilities in looking after victims sensitively.
“The team that developed this excellent facility included representatives from Police Scotland, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Government, Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid and they have done an amazing job and I want to thank them all.”