Sexual Assault

National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach

I’m pleased to announce that the National Best Practice for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach is now available from NIJ. This is a project many of us worked on and should provide excellent guidance related to all things sexual assault evidence collections kits, including our role in obtaining samples, processing kits, notifying victims and more. From the site:

Through the report, “National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach,” NIJ’s expert working group created 35 recommendations providing a guide to victim-centered approaches for responding to sexual assault cases and better supporting victims throughout the criminal justice process. A coordinated and collaborative approach to sexual assault investigations helps provide reassurance and support to the victims of sexual violence, improve victim engagement to facilitate healing, and increase the potential for just resolutions to these cases.

Jurisdictions vary in their individual needs and resources; these recommendations can help provide a roadmap for agencies to develop or advance their policies and protocols for untested sexual assault kits. The recommendations emphasize the use of collaborative, victim-centered, and multidisciplinary approaches to improve evidence collection and preservation, increase consistency and provide uniformity for the prioritization and transferral of evidence, enhance laboratory process efficiencies for DNA testing, and advance investigative practices and agency protocols for: evidence inventory, tracking and audits, and communication systems.

Chapter 2 specifically addresses medical-forensic exams, but it’s worth reviewing the full doc, particularly with your SART or MDT, because there are some items in here that have been a bit fuzzy in the past that are addressed with more clarity (such as numbers of swabs obtained and how they should be obtained; use of lubricants; slides and smears). Although they specifically pertain to the work we do, they don’t exist in a vacuum, so expect the need for some multidisciplinary conversation, including your crime lab personnel.

You can download the full document here (PDF).