Police facing medical examiner shortage

By David GreenA NEW report has revealed a police force has a shortage of medical examiners and was having a particular problem recruiting women to fill the vacancy.

By David Green

A NEW report has revealed a police force has a shortage of medical examiners and was having a particular problem recruiting women to fill the vacancy.

The report, prepared by Suffolk Chief Constable Alistair McWhirter for a Suffolk Police Authority committee, said "extreme difficulty" was being experienced in maintaining the call-out rota for the Lowestoft area.

It also revealed the county police force was having difficulty recruiting women medical examiners, sometimes needed to examine women who have been raped.


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Each geographical area of Suffolk usually has the full-time equivalent of six police medical examiners – GPs who agree to be part of an "on call" rota and are occasionally called upon to examine people in custody and rape victims.

However, while the southern area has its full complement of examiners, the western area is one short and the eastern area, which includes Lowestoft, is the equivalent of 2.5 full-timers short.

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Now Suffolk police are looking to copy their counterparts in Norfolk by recruiting on-call medical examiners through a private company.

The report to the police authority, which will discuss the matter on Friday, said no success had been achieved in finding replacements following the resignation of two of the three women police medical examiners.

The resignations pushed the percentage of women among the Suffolk force's examiners to 12.5%, compared with a national level of 18.2% in 2000.

"However, following negotiation the remaining female medical examiner agreed to undertake two segments of the rota and extend her availability to countywide for the examination of female rape victims," said the report.

"This results in 14% of the rota being covered by a female examiner, but, more importantly, she has also agreed to be contacted at any time when a victim of rape requests to be dealt with by a female examiner."

It suggested that although the percentage of women examiners was not ideal, the level was better than in many other police forces.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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