RAPISTS could be brought to justice years after they strike thanks to a new pilot scheme that has been launched in Scarborough.
Victims of rape and sexual assault are now able to report to the Castle Health Centre in York Place, where forensic samples are taken confidentially and stored by specially-trained nurses.
If the victim then decides to report the crime at a later date, the evidence can be used in a prosecution.
Pauline Carruthers, founder and chief executive officer of the Scarborough-based HOPE charity for victims of rape and sexual assault, said: “There are many reasons why victims may not want to go to the police straight away.
“They may not want their parents to know, they might not want to admit what happened or they could be too traumatised.
“We always encourage people to report to the police, but it might be a year later that they think they should have done it. It’s not too late if the forensics are there. It’s fantastic to have this resource based in Scarborough - it could be the difference between a rapist walking free or being locked up.”
Other details such as a description of the attacker or the location of the rape can be passed to the police anonymously, if the victim gives permission. Specialist support and medical care is also provided.
The new service in Scarborough is the latest step taken by the NHS and North Yorkshire Police to improve services for victims of rape and sexual assault.
The Evening News had highlighted the fact that many services available to victims in other parts of the country were not on offer in North Yorkshire in our front page story last year, pictured left.
Detective Superintendent Lewis Raw, head of major and specialist crime for North Yorkshire Police, said: “We welcome the launch of this pilot service which provides immediate medical care and advice to victims of sexual assault.
“The provision of this service will improve the service to victims of sexual assault, and if the victim chooses to report the assault to the police, it will significantly increase the chances of a criminal conviction.”
Julie Bolus, director of nursing for NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: “We are very pleased to launch the pilot of this much needed service in Scarborough.
“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.”
To access the free service, contact Castle Health Centre on 0330 1239278 or call in. No appointment is necessary.