Self-referral forensic medical services - retention period for evidence: consultation

Closed 30 Apr 2021

Opened 5 Feb 2021


The landmark Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021 was unanimously passed by the Scottish Parliament on 10 December 2020 and received Royal Assent on 20 January 2021. This consultation seeks views on the appropriate retention period for evidence collected in the course of self-referral forensic medical services, to enable the FMS Act to be implemented. 

The consultation will run for 12 weeks and we invite responses by Friday 30 April 2021.

Why your views matter

The FMS Act places a duty on health boards to give victims of all ages access to trauma-informed, person-centred forensic medical services and, for adults aged 16 or over, it will enable a health board to retain certain evidence where the victim is undecided about reporting to the police.   

The FMS Act must be commenced by the Scottish Ministers before the statutory duties on health boards contained in the Act have legal effect.  To enable this to take place, amongst other things, a retention period for evidence collected in the course of self-referral forensic medical services must be prescribed under regulations (secondary legislation) which is what this consultation concerns.  The retention period  will be the statutory time period for which evidence such as biological samples must be held by health boards.  Based on the evidence gathered of best practice elsewhere in the UK, the CMO Taskforce has recommended to Scottish Ministers a retention period of 26 months (two years, two months).   The Scottish Government is inviting your views before making a final decision. 

Read the full consultation paper

Read the easy read consultation paper

What happens next

The consultation has now closed. All responses are being analysed and considered to enable Scottish Ministers to make a final decision on the retention period and lay draft retention period regulations for the approval of the Scottish Parliament. 

Where permission has been given we will publish responses.   

For further details on the FMS Act please see our webpage and twitter hashtag #EquallySafeFMS


  • Equality, Welfare and Rights
  • Health and Social Care
  • Law and Order