Exeter SARC is also a centre of excellence for paediatric forensics. This is for people across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly who have been sexually assaulted or abused.
Paediatric forensic examinations
A Paediatric Forensic Examination is required whenever a child has made a disclosure of sexual abuse or if the referring agency suspect that abuse has occurred (even if the child has not made a disclosure).
The process consists of a review of the child’s clinical history, an examination, detailed documentation including the use of drawings and photography where appropriate, and obtaining forensic samples.
The doctors are careful to ensure that there is a therapeutic and supportive environment for the child and their carers during the medical examination.
Our team includes specially trained doctors and nurses. They are very experienced at working with children. This means that their competencies are kept very up to date and they are at the forefront of thinking in paediatric forensic medicine.
Any doctor who undertakes the forensic assessment of a child must have particular skills and training. The specialist skills of our staff include;
- The ability to communicate comfortably with children and their carers about these sensitive issues.
- To understand, and be sensitive to, the child’s developmental, social and emotional needs and intellectual level.
- An understanding of child consent, confidentiality and safeguarding.
- Medical experience and training to conduct a comprehensive general and genital examination of a child.
- Understanding of the diagnosis and differential diagnosis of physical signs.
- Competence in the use of specialist equipment such as a colposcope.
- Understanding what forensic samples may be appropriate to the investigation and how these samples should be obtained and packaged according to the current National Police Chiefs Council, Forensic Science Service and Faculty of forensic and legal medicine guidance.
- The ability to comprehensively and precisely document the clinical findings in their contemporaneous notes, as well as being able to produce a detailed statement that interprets these findings.
- Willingness to communicate and co-operate with other agencies and professionals involved in the care of the child; this may include attending a case conference, referral to other health professionals, e.g. paediatricians, psychiatrists, genitourinary physicians.
- The aptitude to present the evidence, and be cross-examined, in subsequent civil and criminal proceedings.
As a centre of excellence in paediatric forensics, all of our paediatric staff are continuing to research and develop services for young people that have been sexually assaulted. We are also developing a comprehensive medical training programme for doctors so that we can continue to grow expertise in this specialist area.