Saturday 3 December 2016

Rape victims can store DNA evidence for year giving them more time to decide on reporting crime

Published 06/09/2016 | 09:39

Perpetrators of sexual crime are more likely to be convicted now that DNA evidence can be stored for longer, a Dublin Rape Crisis Centre spokesperson said.

reports the Medical Independent'

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Funding supplied to sexual assault units (SATUs) in Ireland means they have the technology to store the collected biological evidence themselves for up to a year, reports the Medical Independent.

Prior to this, alleged victims had to make the decision of filing a garda report almost immediately after an alleged attack.

"This is definitely an advance for people and it has the capacity of increases the number of people committing these crimes to be brought to justice," Noeleen Blackwell told independent.ie.

"Following a sexual attack, victims need to address their own physical care but, in the shock and trauma of the incident, it can be very difficult to make a decision to report it to gardai.

"They may not be in a position to say there and then that this is something that they want to go forward with."

The quality of forensic evidence deteriorates rapidly and samples collated by the six SATUs around the country were handed very quickly over to the Garda Forensics Unit in Dublin's Phoenix Park for storage. However, this would only occur if a victim reported the attack.

With funding from the Department of Justice and the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, SATUs now have the technology to store the evidence themselves for up to 12 months.

"Very often, the only evidence collected at the time - apart from witness statements from the parties involved - is DNA evidence. You can't take a photo of the scene or anything like that," said Ms Blackwell.

"It's great if people are ready to make that decision [to file a report] but, the truth is, many are not." 

The Rape Crisis Centre has supported medics and forensics "and the police themselves" who have been campaigning for this funding "for some time"

The six SATUs offer care for both women and men over the age of 14 who have been sexually assaulted or raped recently.

There is no charge associated with availing of any of the SATU services.

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