Our history

5St. Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) was established in 1986 and was the first Centre of its kind in the UK.

Dr Raine Roberts MBE was instrumental in establishing the Centre and was the Clinical Director from the start in 1986 until she retired in 2003. It was her experience as a GP examining recently raped women since the 1960s that convinced Dr Raine Roberts of the need for a single service that could conduct the forensic medical examination that the police required, but by a female doctor in specialised accommodation rather than a police station, and also provide the counselling and other care that the assault survivor required.

Dr Roberts fought hard to convince the Greater Manchester Police that such a system could work, and work to their benefit, and the NHS (in its incarnation as St. Mary’s Hospital for Women and Children) to provide the accommodation. She found strong allies in Chief Supt Albert Yates and hospital manager Terry White, and St. Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre began work in 1986 with a small but committed team of forensic physicians and counsellors.

A unique collaboration between Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Police Authority, and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust, the Centre set the standard for sexual assault services in the UK. As its Clinical Director until her retirement at the end of March 2003, Dr Roberts led from the front in continuing the fight for improvements in the medico-legal treatment of survivors of rape and sexual assault, and the development of other support services.