Objective: Several schemes have been reported to improve treatment of rape and to encourage reporting. The development of a comprehensive forensic and follow up service for complainants of sexual assault is described, and activities of the first year are reviewed.
Design: Retrospective review of case records of complainants examined in The Haven.
Setting: Department of Sexual Health in a London teaching hospital.
Sample: All case records, 676 complainants, from the first year of cases seen in The Haven.
Methods: Description of setting up a service in partnership between the National Health Service and the Metropolitan Police, called The Haven. Analysis of a standardised proforma used for case records.
Results: Mean age of complainants is 26 years (range 11-66); 6% were male. Assailant was categorised as a stranger in 52% of cases; attack involved physical violence in 50% of cases; 24% of victims had genital injuries; 39% had other physical injuries. Immediate care given at time of forensic examination included 30% of women receiving emergency contraception and 5% of clients receiving post-exposure prophylaxis against HIV. Fifty-five percent of clients returned for a sexual health screen and/or counselling. Thirty-one percent received screening for sexually transmitted infections and 12% were diagnosed with one or more infections.
Conclusions: Requirements following sexual assault include forensic examination, first aid, postcoital contraception, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections and psychosocial support. Provision of these services within a sexual health setting is feasible.