Frequently Asked Questions

Call The Bridgeway on 0808 118 6432

What are the frequently asked questions about Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC)?

A SARC is a building where victims of serious sexual violence such as rape receive a high-quality professional response to their needs, whether medical or otherwise.  SARCS are now a recognised effective first step towards recovery from the trauma of a sexual assault and there are many established centres in England and Wales.

You will need to get yourself, or get a trusted friend or relative to bring you as we cannot arrange transport, if you have reported to the Police, the police will arrange for you to get to the SARC. If you are attending as a Self referral without police involvement the Crisis worker will give you directions to the SARC.

The SARC is staffed during normal working hours but will be available for use via a call-out system on a 24/7 basis 365 days of the year.

No. Anyone who has been attacked sexually in Cumbria or anywhere else can access the SARC whether or not they want to involve the police and receive exactly the same range of services.

By calling us on 0808 118 6432. You will be able to call and make an appointment, based on the circumstances of your attack or drop in if you’d prefer but we would advise making an appointment in case the SARC is already looking after someone else.

No. This is a free service for the people who live in Cumbria.

During normal working hours, the SARC is staffed by a Manager and Deputy Manager/Administrator. Each client who visits the SARC will see the on-duty Crisis Worker, a person trained to look after their needs and support them throughout their time at the SARC. The Crisis Worker will be with you if you decide to undergo a medical examination. If you have reported the matter to the police the specially trained officer who first dealt with you is also likely to remain with you as long as you want them to. If you want to see a medical professional the SARC will provide a trained, experienced and caring practitioner to provide this service for you.

No.  The SARC is very discreet. There is no direct public access into the SARC so the Centre will only be opened up to accommodate clients accessing our service. It has areas for adults and children with separate waiting areas with a range of entertainment and reading materials appropriate to the age. The waiting areas have been designed to be as comfortable and relaxing as possible whilst recognising the need to avoid contamination of evidence.

Yes. Men are victims of rape and sexual violence and will get exactly the same services as women.

There is no age limit. Sadly children of all ages are victims of sexual abuse. Specially trained forensic paediatricians will see children.

The services provided at the SARC are entirely confidential. Clients who do not want any police involvement can if they wish to provide some anonymous intelligence but otherwise, none of their details will be passed to the police or anyone else without their express consent unless statutory Safeguarding disclosure duties apply (i.e. child protection issues).

You will be met at the SARC by a Crisis Worker who will make you welcome and explain the procedures to you. The Crisis Worker will consider using an ‘Early Evidence Kit’ if appropriate. This allows us to secure forensic evidence that might be lost if you had something to eat or drink, wanted to brush your teeth or needed to use the toilet before a medical examination takes place. If you decide to have a medical examination this will be conducted by a trained clinician and the Crisis worker will be in the room with you and will help the medical practitioner to label and package any samples so that they can be analysed at a laboratory later for evidence of the offender. If the police are not involved you can decide whether you want the SARC to store any samples in case you change your mind. In some circumstances you may also agree to some samples being submitted for analysis anonymously. The medical professional will also assess whether you need emergency contraception or treatment against the risk of infection. The Crisis Worker, together with any other professional involved and after discussion with you will consider what other welfare, health or protection needs you may have and will start to work with you to ensure that appropriate referrals are made to agencies that can help. Before you leave the SARC we will ensure that any follow-up treatment you need is planned and arranged and that you can see an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) to help you through the aftermath of the attack.

Each case is different.  We will aim to have a Crisis Worker at the SARC within 30 minutes of a call out of hours and within 1 hour for a forensic practitioner.  A medical examination can take anything between one and two hours.  Depending on your wishes and the circumstances you may agree to be interviewed by the police in facilities provided at the SARC or you may wait in the comfortable post-examination room whilst we arrange transport home for you or some other service.

  • No. Counselling is and will continue to be provided by the local sexual violence service providers; CRASAC, RoSA and Terrence Higgins Trust, all of whom are closely linked to the SARC Project and who can be contacted via the links section of the website.  The Crisis Worker will help you make contact with these organisations.

We will have worked with you to assess your ongoing needs and began to arrange appointments before you leave.  It may be that you need some further treatment regarding your sexual health, counselling, help with your housing or the support of an ISVA.  Whatever you need we will do our best to support you in getting it.

If the attack was more than ten days ago then the evidential benefits of a forensic medical examination are likely to be very limited.  In some circumstances, however, there may be good reason to conduct such an examination, either to set your mind at rest regarding injury or to secure some evidence of historic injury.  Even if you don’t need or want such an examination there may be many services such as counselling or ISVA that would be of benefit to you and we can arrange that. It may be that we refer you to the most appropriate local support organisation to provide this.

We need to establish these things to make sure that our service is being offered fairly to everybody.  Under the Equality Act 2010 Public Authorities have a duty to do this and only by gathering information about the users of our service can we be sure that the people of Cumbria all have equal access to us. Rest assured that this data is only used for this purpose.