What is a SARC?

Dorset Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) is an NHS England commissioned, G4S healthcare service, for victims of Rape and Sexual Assault. Our team consists of professionally qualified Doctors, Midwives, Nurses and Crisis Workers. We are a pan Dorset service based in central Bournemouth. Our mission at Dorset SARC (The Shores) is to help men, women and children who have suffered abusive sexual experiences, live healthier, happier lives.

We support both acute cases of rape and sexual assault as well as non recent allegations of abuse. Clients can make contact with us in a number of ways. They can self-refer, by phoning on our confidential number 0800 9709954 at any time 24/7 365 days a year. They can also be referred to us by the Police and support agencies, family members or friends. Every call is confidential and someone is available to talk 24/7, 365 days of the year.

When a client attends the SARC they will be met by a Crisis Support Worker (CSW) . We have both male and female CSW’s, so can accommodate gender preference. The Crisis Support worker will ensure that the client is listened to and informed of the options open to them. We are an inclusive service and also offer support to family members, friends, partners, and service providers by providing information and support resources on our website (link above) and out in the community during promotional engagement activities and outreach work.

The options open to the client are as follows.

If the client has been raped or sexually assaulted and is within the forensic window (please contact us for more information on this), then a qualified forensic examiner can provide a full forensic examination. This will ensure that any evidence (Photos of injuries, bruising and forensic swabs) is gathered and stored appropriately. The client is offered this service whether they wish to have police involvement or not.

If they do not wish to report the offence to the police that is absolutely their choice. If an examination has taken place without police involvement then the evidence is stored at the SARC for two years. Should they wish to proceed with a prosecution and the involvement of the police within this time then the evidence can be handed over to the police after consent is gained from the client. If the case is a police case from the start then they will have access to the evidence immediately.

If the client is outside the forensic window then they will be supported by the CSW. The CSW will sit with the client and sensitively talk through what has happened and discuss the options open to the client through the SARC referral system. This will ensure an onward care pathway is put in place to fully support them, with an appropriate safeguarding plan.

These are as follows:

GP referral

If the client would like the SARC to pass information to their GP about their attendance at the SARC then this can be completed. The GP will be given brief details of the event and any medical concerns raised during any forensic examination. This negates the need for the client to have to relive the events with a GP, reliving events can often further traumatise an individual. The client simply refers to their visit to the SARC when speaking with the GP and the GP will have sufficient information from the referral to be in a position to support the client further.

The Sexual Health Clinic referral

Clients are encouraged to engage with this service if a need is identified following a risk assessment completed by the forensic examiner. The forensic nurse will also make an assessment based on the evidence presented to the likely risk of HIV, this can be addressed initially whilst the client is in the SARC with the administration of PEPSE (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis following Sexual Exposure), a treatment that can prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered a person’s body through sexual exposure.

GUM Clinic referral

If they have been referred to the GUM clinic by the SARC then once again basic details are passed on to the clinic by the SARC, the clinic can then contact the client by phone to discuss attending an appointment at a certain date and time for the appropriate follow up.

Sexual Trauma and Recovery Service (STARS Dorset) referral

At the SARC we will always encourage our clients to accept a referral to STARS where they will be allocated an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA). The ISVA team can accompany, support and guide clients through the police process, the criminal justice system, liaising with other agencies, medical appointments and signposting to other services The counselling service with STARS provides one to one trauma informed counselling for anyone in Dorset who has experienced any form of sexual violence.

Training and Engagement

The Engagement Officer at the SARC is happy to attend any conferences, team meetings and team training in order to inform partner agencies of the services we offer. This service is free of charge and can be tailored to suit your needs. We will if requested, cover the responses to sexual trauma, which offers a basic insight into how a victim may present and what they may be going through when they disclose a sexual assault to someone. We can give an insight to key workers who may find themselves receiving a disclosure firsthand on the key things to consider before making a response to a victim/survivor.

We encourage professionals, whether local authority, partner organisations or third sector organisations to visit the SARC on a pre-arranged date and time where we will give you a tour following the journey of a victim/survivor. This will allow you to better support those who may disclose. Further information is available from our website, follow the link above, where you will find contact information. If you or your team would like further information or a training input provided by a qualified trainer free of charge, please contact us by phone or email. [email protected] 0800 9709954 and ask for the Engagement officer.