Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) offer medical, practical and emotional support after rape or sexual assault. They have specially trained NHS doctors, nurses and support workers to care for you. The SARC services are for women, men and children.

If you decide to report the assault to the police, they can arrange for you to attend a SARC for medical care and, if you wish, a forensic medical examination.

If you are unsure about whether to report to the police or not, you can still refer yourself to a SARC for assessment, medical treatment, sexual health advice and emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy.

If you refer yourself to a SARC and are considering reporting the assault to the police, the centre can arrange for you to have an informal talk with a specially trained police officer, who can explain what is involved. You can refer yourself by calling 0300 3034626 or by submitting a short self-referral form and the SARC will call you back at a time you specify.

There are also specially trained advisers available in some SARCs or voluntary organisations to help people who have been sexually assaulted. These independent sexual violence advisers (ISVA) can help victims get access to the other support services they need. They will also support you through the criminal justice system if you decide to report the assault to the police, including supporting you through the trial, should the case go to court.

Devon & Cornwall SARC are part of the NHS and operate sexual assault referral centres in Exeter, Plymouth and Truro.

You can find out more or access support by visiting www.sarchelp.co.uk

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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

How to access our service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Advice from our service:

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

We are currently prioritising these groups for coil and implant (LARC) fits:

  • Those with vulnerabilities including but not limited to those who are: <18, attending abortion and maternity services, homeless, sex workers, victims of sexual assault, people with language barriers, drug and alcohol problems, learning disability, serious mental illness
  • Those aged <30 years

More details on LARC fittings at our service are found here

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.

Alternative provision:

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info