Forensic First for Hazel

Hazel Somerville, Gender Based Violence & Sexual Assault Service Lead, was in the first cohort of nurses in Scotland to complete the PgCert Person Centred Practice (Advanced Forensic Nursing Practice) course at Queen Margaret University earlier this year.

This course was designed to support the introduction of The Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021 (FMS Act 2021) and improve access to female sexual offence examiners.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has had close involvement in the proposals to develop the nurse sexual offence examiner workforce as previously only doctors could give evidence in court in relation to forensic medical examinations for people who had experienced a rape or sexual assault.

The FMS Act 2021, which came into force on the 1st April 2022, places a statutory duty on health boards to provide forensic medical services for victims of sexual offences. It also establishes a legal framework for consistent access to self-referral services, where an individual can access healthcare and request a forensic medical examination without first having to make a report to the police.