Arranging a forensic medical examination (FME)

Phoning the sexual assault self-referral phone service

You can phone the sexual assault self-referral phone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0800 148 88 88. Calls are free from landlines and mobiles.

About the sexual assault self-referral phone service

A forensic medical examination (FME) is carried out by a healthcare professional at a sexual assault response co-ordination service (SARCS) with the aim of collecting evidence that can be used to help identify the person who carried out the assault, if you decide to report it to the police at a later date.

Who can use the sexual assault self-referral phone service?

This service is for people in Scotland aged 16 and over who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

You can also be seen if you’re visiting Scotland. If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted while you’ve been abroad or in another part of the UK you can attend a SARCS when you’re back in Scotland.

FMEs are usually performed within 7 days, depending on the assault. In some circumstances, a healthcare professional at a SARCS may decide it would be appropriate for you to have an FME after that time.

The type of assault you've experienced can also make a difference to how much evidence can be collected in an FME, or whether an FME would be helpful. If you decide to phone the sexual assault self-referral phone service, you will be contacted by a healthcare professional at a SARCS who will help you access the care and support you might need.

Learn more about what to do immediately after a rape or sexual assault

This is a confidential NHS service. Your GP, the police and other agencies will not be informed unless you decide to tell them or give your consent to have your details shared.

You can be seen by the SARCS that is closest or most convenient to you, even if you're away from home or normally live outwith Scotland. A SARCS may be located in or near a hospital.

Phoning the sexual assault self-referral phone service

When you phone this service you may be referred to a healthcare professional at a SARCS who can assess whether it's appropriate for you to get an FME.

People in Scotland aged 16 and over can self-refer to this service without any involvement from the police. This allows evidence to be gathered and gives you time to consider if you want to make a report to the police at a later date.

When you phone the service you will be asked:

  • the phone number you want to be contacted on
  • your date of birth
  • your name
  • your address and/or current location (if different)
  • if you're safe
  • if you have any injuries that require medical attention
  • the date the assault happened
  • your preferred location you want an appointment in (to allow you to choose where you receive your care)
  • your consent for your details to be passed to the healthcare professional at the SARCS

The sexual assault self-referral phone service is not a counselling service or support line.

The person you speak to at the self-referral phone service will not ask about the details of what happened to you, and they are unable to transfer you to anyone else on the call. They can only take your details and pass them to a healthcare professional at a SARCS who will phone you back. If you miss the call they will attempt to phone you a second time.

Learn about contacting the service using Language Line

After your details are passed to a SARCS

A healthcare professional from the SARCS will phone you back as soon as possible. If you miss the call they will attempt to call you a second time. They will ask you for information about the assault and help you make a decision about what to do next.

If you're going to have an FME, you and the healthcare professional will arrange an appointment for you at the SARCS. It's a good idea to write down your appointment time.

Learn more about getting ready for your appointment

If you're not going to have an FME

You'll have a detailed consultation with a healthcare professional over the phone and at the SARCS. If you decide that you don't want to have an FME, that is absolutely fine.

During your consultation, it might become clear that it won't be possible to gather forensic evidence from an FME. This can happen due to a number of reasons.

Whether or not you have an FME, the healthcare professional can refer to you services that could help - for example, sexual health services or places to access emergency contraception. If you'd rather seek out information and services yourself, that's fine too.

Learn about further support

Last updated:
01 April 2022