Care to be improved for victims of crime

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New guidelines for treating the victims of crime will be issued to doctors and nurses after some complained they were treated unsympathetically.

Home Office research has shown that less than 50 per cent of violent crime is reported to the police and for many victims their only contact with the authorities is when they receive treatment for their injuries.

Victims have complained that they were treated in an insensitive or judgmental way, adding to their distress.

The booklet gives a checklist for doctors, including documenting injuries, looking for signs of sexual assault and safeguarding clothing that may be necessary for forensic evidence.

It also lists possible signs of domestic violence, how to make a written report, the effect of post-traumatic stress disorder and who is most likely to be at risk of different crimes.

At the launch of the booklet, Treating Victims of Crime, which will be issued free to all GPs and accident and emergency departments, the charity Victim Support yesterday outlined some cases where the victims' ordeal had been exacerbated by the treatment they had received from medical staff.

A woman store detective who had been stabbed by a thief who said the hypodermic needle was infected with Aids was then told by her doctor to "pull herself together" and given no information.

A young man seriously injured in an armed robbery was told by his GP that the consultant who had dealt with him had written on the discharge note that "the victim had provoked the attack by challenging the robber".

The director of Victim Support, Helen Reeves, said: "There are many victims who never tell anyone what has happened to them but they do seek medical help. It is essential that these people are treated with sensitivity and understanding and that they are told what other sources of help are available to them."