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The service was rolled out in the six SATUs across the country this summer.
In June 2015 the Medical Independent (MI) broke the story that the SATUs had secured State funding to preserve biological evidence. It was originally hoped that the facility could have been rolled out last year.
“Someone can now come to a SATU and report an incident of sexual crime to us and we can store the evidence while they are deciding whether they want to report to An Garda Síochána,” Clinical Director of the National SATU Services Dr Maeve Eogan told MI.
The facility became available in early July.
“Now, it is still the best thing to report to An Garda Síochána straight away, the reason being that there are many other pieces of detective work that the guards can do, when they know about an incident of sexual crime in the acute sense. Whereas if we store the evidence and it is six or nine months before the person reports it to An Garda Síochána things like scene of crime information or CCTV may no longer be available.
“However, if someone is really uncertain on whether they want to report it, the second best thing is for us to store the evidence here – and then they can make that decision about reporting to the guards in the cold light of day down the line, remote from the incident.
“The aim is that this will ultimately increase the reporting of sexual crime because there are men and women who previously wouldn’t have reported to the guards who may now hopefully report to the guards.
“It increases the choice and range of options for a patient, at a time when it may be very difficult to make black or white decisions.”
The facility will allow freezer monitoring to ensure appropriate storage of forensic samples that may be recorded and produced in courts as robust evidence if required.
There was an increase in the number of patients attending the six SATUs in 2015, rising from 628 in 2014 to 685 last year.