The Lancashire SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination) Centre at Royal Preston Hospital provides forensic examinations, advice and comprehensive support services for people of all ages who make a complaint of rape or sexual assault.
Granada Reports will be airing a news report about the Centre tonight at 6:30pm!
The Centre is the country's first purpose-built centre combining forensic and medical care for complainants of rape and sexual assault and opened at Royal Preston Hospital in 2002.
The Centre offers comprehensive support facilities to all those who make a complaint of rape and sexual assault and is a joint initiative between the Royal Preston Hospital and Lancashire Constabulary.
Kate Robertshaw is the centre manager and gave us her views on working at the centre
It's one of those places that areas of work that you either really enjoy, and you get a lot of job satisfaction from it, or you shouldn't be working here.
People stay on because they're passionate about the work and I don't think if you didn't have that passion that you could carry on working here
You look at my team and even the former manager, still works as crisis worker, seven years on. Our former clinical director, she retired last November but she stayed on as an examiner.
The team are good and all of us are given training on how to deal with people on the telephone people who may have experienced trauma
A member of the team is available day or night through our telephone support and information line - 01772 523344.
Our initial concern is always about making sure that the caller is safe. That's safe physically and mentally. So sometimes we might have to arrange welfare calls from the police or, you know, sometimes we've had to call an ambulance.
In the past 19 years I've seen 1000s of people come through here.
The few that really stick in my mind, are one’s that have reminded me of somebody I know, and that those are the ones that I remember.
But it's about having coping mechanisms when you leave work, because you have to leave it at work.
The Safe Centre opened in 2002. And I think early in 2003, I saw they were advertising crisis workers, and it was an area that I felt quite passionate about. I applied and for awhile did bank work around my nursing job and then, in 2004 I moved into sexual health as a substantive role.
I was working in sexual health with what I call tricky cases, I was a crisis worker, you know, speaking to people on the phone overnight, members of the public dealing with the police, and all of that and then obviously coming in for cases. I knew the current manager was going to retire, so I came in every week to work alongside her just to find out for that job on the day off. I applied and for the past 8 years have been the manager here.
18 months ago, we started to explore taking on forensic nurse examiners to add to the rotor alongside our doctors as well. So, I decided to do that as well. I did a course forensic medical examiners course in Manchester, and then about 12 months ago started working on my days off as a forensic nurse examiner here as well.
Horrible, horrible things happen, and you can't get away from that fact.
People are sexually assaulted, and people are raped.
These things happen, and intolerable, but I think that we offer a little bit of something to people when they come here.
It's calming. People feel safe. They feel looked after.
Since we've been open, we've seen the number of referrals almost double and that isn't getting any less.
We are getting over 700 referrals a year which is a tragic number, so there is clearly a need for our service.
The youngest person was less than a year old, and we've had complainants over the age of 80.
We've had 10,170 referrals in 10 years and whilst not all of those have attended for an examination, they have all received support in some way, shape or form
On one hand that number of cases is gratifying but in another way it is horrifying.
However, you must look at the where would these people have got that support if we had not been there?
We even have sexual violence advocates who help support complainants through the whole criminal justice system, from report right through to court
Who would support them when a case doesn't get to court, or they don't get a result that they want in court?
Who would be referring them to assist with medical needs, emergency contraception, sexual health advice, health care?