Scotland's first dedicated round-the-clock support service for people who have recently suffered rape or sexual assault has been officially launched by the Minister for Communities and Sport Stewart Maxwell, and backed by the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini QC.
Archway Glasgow is the first service of its kind in Scotland, and is a pilot project funded initially by the Scottish Government, then by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Strathclyde Police and Glasgow City Council. Any man, woman or young person aged 13 or over who lives in the Glasgow area and has been raped or sexually assaulted within the last seven days can seek treatment and further help at Archway, which is based at Sandyford in Glasgow.
After an initial clinical assessment, Archway Glasgow can offer:
* Onward referral to other agencies.
* Support and advocacy for up to 12 weeks
* STI follow-up testing
* Forensic sample storage - to offer clients time to decide whether or not to involve the police
* Forensic examinations
"Archway Glasgow provides support and treatment, based on respect and courtesy, for all survivors of rape and sexual assault in Glasgow 24-hours a day, throughout the year."
"It is vital that we continue to change public attitudes towards rape and challenge the myths that exist around it.
Minister for Communities and Sport Stewart Maxwell carried out the official launch at Strathclyde Police HQ. The Minister said: "Sexual abuse and violence in any shape or form is deplorable and the Scottish Government takes a zero tolerance approach to it. Sadly, sexual abuse and violence is a reality for too many people in Scotland, which is why we are funding Scotland's first sexual assault referral centre.
Speaking at the launch, the Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini QC said: "Rape is a horrendous crime, and no-one should be in any doubt about the Crown's will to prosecute where there is sufficient evidence to do so. But, we must remember that each case starts with one woman being brave enough to seek help and to report the crime committed against her.
"Archway Glasgow is an important resource, combining access to medical and counselling services, with the support to allow a woman to make decisions about what to do in her own time. There can be no doubt that availability of this level of support at an early stage can make a big difference to giving someone the courage to report a rape."
Archway Glasgow is a pilot in the first instance, which receives funding from the Scottish Government. It is being run as a partnership between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), Strathclyde Police, Glasgow City Council, the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service, Rape Crisis Scotland and Rape Crisis Glasgow.
NHSGGC Chairman Andrew Robertson said: "Rape and sexual assault can have terrible consequences not only for the individual who suffers, but for their families, friends and colleagues and for society at large.
"Sexual violence, like other violent crime, is a major public health issue. By working together with our partners, we hope that Archway Glasgow can help reduce the short and long term effects of rape and sexual assault, and increase the number of these crimes that are reported to police."
Councillor Jim Coleman, Chair of the Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership, said: "The need for an integrated, holistic service in Glasgow for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted was initially identified by the Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership, which subsequently secured funding from the Scottish Executive for a three-year pilot.
"We hope that Archway Glasgow will encourage people who have been raped or sexually assaulted to come forward and thus address the abysmally low reporting of these horrendous crimes.
"Glasgow City Council is committed to contributing towards the ongoing funding of the project at the end of the pilot along with Strathclyde Police and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde."
Strathclyde Police's Assistant Chief Constable (Crime) John LS Malcolm said: "The Archway model is an example of a co-ordinated response by both Criminal Justice and Health Authorities in meeting the needs of victims at a time of vulnerability".
Archway Glasgow is staffed by a lead clinician, manager, two consultant doctors, a lead nurse, a specialist sexual health nurse, a full-time counsellor, a support worker and an admin assistant. This core team is support by a bank of specialist forensic examiners, approximately 16 on-call doctors and approximately 24 on-call nurses. Clients have access to female forensic medical examiners and language interpreters if they so choose.
Archway Glasgow Manager May Deanie said the service is open to men and women alike: "Rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone, irrespective of age, disability, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, faith or sexual orientation. Our services are there for anyone aged 13 or over living in the Glasgow area who has been raped or sexually assaulted within the last seven days.
"We stipulate seven days because collecting and storing forensic evidence is an important way in which we can help. This lets us gather evidence for any potential criminal prosecution in future, and our storage facilities mean that clients have a choice in whether or not they decide to go to the police and don't have to decide this straight away.
"Archway Glasgow began to see clients earlier this year and the service has been developed so that since early October we've been available to help people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We've now seen 139 people - and each and every one of them is treated as an individual, which is very important.
"Approximately a third of these 139 individuals have been self referrals, which means they've come straight to Archway Glasgow rather than going to the police first. They might not otherwise have sought help after suffering sexual assault, and rather than concentrating entirely on medical concerns, all 139 people have been treated as individuals, in a holistic way."
NOTES TO EDITORS
* NB: Archway Glasgow is based at the Sandyford Initiative in Glasgow, but as the service is available to clients 24 hours per day, Monday's official launch took place at Strathclyde Police HQ.
* Images of the interior and exterior of Archway Glasgow are available in jpg format. For more details, or to arrange exterior filming, please contact 0141 201 4429.
* Funding of £1.59 million over 3 years (2006-9) is being provided by the Scottish Government from Health, Communities and Justice Directorates.
* Archway Glasgow can be contacted on 0141 211 8175 or online at www.archwayglasgow.com.