Between the 25th and 27th of February 2019, Necuvinte Association participated in a UK study visit with representatives of the British Embassy in Bucharest, the “Mina Minovici” Forensic Medicine Institute, the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Bucharest Tribunal and the Romanian Police.
The study visit is part of the project “Developing relationships with SARCs” – funded by the Embassy of Her Majesty of Great Britain in Romania and implemented through Necuvinte Association.
SARCs – Sexual Assault Referral Centres is an integrated model of intervention in cases of sexual violence. The approach is centered on the victim and the provision of services designed to ensure maximum comfort, with the collection of evidence, police assistance and psychological counseling of the victim. These centers place the victim of the crime at the forefront, all legal proceedings take place in the same building, and the hearing is recorded audio/video to be used in later legal proceedings. Repeating the victim interview is only done in exceptional circumstances.
On the first day of the study visit, we reached the Saturn Centre – a center for adult victims of sexual violence. In 2018, over 900 people, 90% female, 10% male have passed the threshold of this center. The center is open at the Crawley Hospital. At the UK level, there are currently 14 such centers.
Along with our UK partners, we have replicated the route a victim of a sexual offense goes through once she/he enters in that center. From initial assessment, police intervention and biological sampling. At the end of these procedures, the recipient of the services receives a kit with cosmetics and a new set of clothing, having the ability to make a shower at the centre and change the clothes they wore during the attack, the clothes are collected and kept as evidence.
In addition to the unique integrated intervention model built through close interinstitutional collaboration, these centers bring a novelty, namely that the collected evidence can be kept in the center, under the conditions specified by law, up to two years, giving the victim the chance to start the legal action against the aggressor/aggressor.
On the second day, we have visited MASH – Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, located in Horsham. This hub is headquartered in the Local Council, which also funds the functioning of the hub and is a telephone support system, a control centre from which cases go to SARCs. During the day, almost 100 people work in this hub, and during the night there are emergency teams ready to intervene when needed. Among the operators of this hub are also policemen, social workers and experts in domestic violence and abuse.
We have also witnessed a rape victim trial, victim that has been supported by the SARC centres.
On the last day, we visited a centre dedicated to underage victims of sexual assault, the Beech House SARC Center. The principle of operation is similar to all SARC centres, the victim is in the center of all services provided, the collection of evidence and the hearing, always taking care of the emotional comfort and safety of the injured person.
We thank Mrs. Irina Costache and Cristina Donovan – representatives of the British Embassy in Bucharest, Mrs. Giorgiana Stoian – Criminal Investigations/ IGPR, Mr. Prof. Dr. Cristian Curcă, Director of the “Mina Minovici” Forensic Medicine Institute, Mr. Bogdan Staicu, First Prosecutor of the Prosecutor’s Office alongside the Bucharest Tribunal, Mr. Bogdan Trandafir – Head of the Sexual Aggression Bureau, Bucharest Police for joining us in this project.
We regret that the National Agency for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men could not be present this time, we hope to have them in the future.
Last but not least, we thank the British Embassy in Bucharest for the trust they have in implementing this project and our UK counterparts who have been hosting us these days and have helped us better understand this model of intervention for violence sexual.