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With At Scales experience of working within SARCs and our collaborative approach to programme management, NHSE Health and Justice commissioned At Scale to programme manage the delivery of six new SARC premises across SE England ahead of new forensic accreditation. Our team worked with health and police commissioners, NHS Property Services, SARC clinical specialists, and victim networks to deliver new facilities for this vital service.

Sexual Assault Referral Centres provide dedicated care for people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Located across the country, SARCs offer specialist practical, medical, and emotional support 24/7.


In 2021 NHSE H&J commissioned At Scale to review six SARCs across SE England ahead of the Forensic Science Regulator’s new accreditation. SARCs are in every part of the country and offer victims specialist practical, medical, and emotional support 24/7. Existing premises were not able to offer the flexibility needed to meet the new regulations and nationally, there is a shift to building SARC capacity to meet rising demand. Additionally, this provided an opportunity to consider.

What we did

We started the project by reviewing existing SARC premises in five counties. We looked at things like location, running costs, lease risks and opportunities, and site limitations such as space and accessibility. Based on the findings, we set about finding new premises for six SARCs, considering options for temporary and permanent relocation opportunities via site searches and desktop research. We shortlisted premises and progressed to landlord engagement to secure chosen sites. We also developed a SARC premises specification by working with clinical and police and crime commissioners and victim networks to shape thinking. We led the detailed design of each of the premises, considering evidence security, victim journey and flow through building, service delivery and real-life issues such as staff change facilities and the look and feel of space.

We were responsible for project managing the whole programme involving multi-disciplinary teams comprising NHS Property Services and their designers, NHSE’s Health and Justice team, SARC clinical specialists and five different police services and their police and crime commissioners. We are currently involved in managing the building of each SARC with completion due in 2023 ahead of the new accreditation in 2024.

Outcomes and impact

What has been achieved we have achieved in the Southeast provides a blueprint for other SARCs across the country. The project has been complex involving many diverse stakeholders and has been successful because of clarity in respective roles, transparency and understanding.


“Designing the SARCs required all partners to work together and input into the design. The resulting layout optimises flow in the service-user journey and enables SARC service provider to deliver seamless holistic care” – NHSE SARC Clinical Advisor and sector specialist.

Engage, Collaborate or Transform?

The project covers all three aspects and has required significant investment to ensure the needs of many stakeholders are balance while ensuring the overall project outcomes and timescale are maintained.

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