Child victims of sexual assault are having to be flown off island for examination, it has emerged.

Chief Constable Gary Roberts made the revelation as he unveiled plans in his latest annual report to create an on-island sexual assault referral centre next year.

In his report, Mr Roberts said his officers struggle at times to deal with the demands caused by an increase in reporting of non-recent sexual offences.

He said this financial year, 2018-19, is likely to see the creation of a sexual assault referral centre, which will bring together services for the benefit of those who have been subject to sexual violence.

’This will be a major and much welcomed development,’ he said in his foreword to the annual report.

Mr Roberts said that the centre will enable victims of an assault to get medical support, have access to counselling and, if they want it, access to the police to report it as a crime, in one place.

He revealed that at the moment, some victims of sexual crime, particularly children, are taken off the island for examination.

A police spokesman said the Department of Home Affairs and the public health division are working together, with the support of ministers, on a facility to which sexual assault victims can self-refer rather than have to go through the police service to access the care and forensic examination.

He said: ’This should be the case for adults and children.

’The current situation is that the police make every effort to arrange for specialist forensic examiners to come to the island.

’However, logistically and sometimes forensically, this is not suitable or achievable and it may be necessary to take victims to the UK.

’This is not a position that either department will accept and we are working very hard to ensure we deliver a viable service for the island.’

In a written reply to a House of Keys question from Onchan MHK Rob Callister, the Home Affairs Minister Bill Malarkey said: ’In some cases victims may be taken to a sexual assault referral centre in the UK for specialist forensic examination.

’The department is keenly aware that the current situation is not satisfactory.

’For that reason options are being explored with a view to establishing provision on the island that meets the requisite forensic standards and, importantly, the needs of victims of sexual assault.’

Mr Callister, who was contacted over the last year by people concerned at the way sexual assault victims are being treated, said: ’It’s totally inappropriate.

’We cannot have minors going on to a plane – obviously with an accompanying adult, but that’s not the point – and then being examined after all the trauma they’ve gone through.

’We need a unit here and if we can’t, because the numbers are low, then we need to make sure people are flown to the Isle of Man and carry out the examinations here.’

referral

Currently, responsibility for sexual assault referral services sits solely with the police.

The specification and business case for the new referral centre should be finalised shortly with implementation dependent on securing the necessary funding, the Home Affairs Minister told the House of Keys last week.

This year for the first time, the Manx police force has begun to assess crime levels based not simply on numbers, but on their impact and their severity.

More than a quarter of all crimes recorded in the island in the last two years were for criminal damage – roughly half of which is damage to motor vehicles.

But, weighted by severity, the category of crime causing the most harm was sexual offences.

These offences accounted for 47% of the most harmful crimes, up from 38% in 2016-17.

The annual report shows that there were 46 registered sex offenders currently living in the island in 2017-18, six of whom were registered in the UK.

There were a further 10 offenders serving jail terms for sex offences.

In total, there were 980 public protection unit investigations.

The figure is up 27% from 771 on the previous year.

Source: IoMToday