RICHMOND, Va. -- A new statewide PERK (rape kit) tracking system launching in Virginia, could transform the way Virginia responds to sexual assault and domestic violence cases, according to Attorney General Mark Herring.
The online tracking system, launched by the Department of Forensic Science and Herring, gives victims, law enforcement, hospitals, and DFS access to monitor kits every step of the way -- from the moment the kits leave the hospital.
In the past, unless a prosecutor decided to move forward with a case, the survivor might not know the status of their PERK kit," said Cristie Lawton, Executive Director of the Virginia Victim Assistance Network.
She said with the new system, that will no longer be the case.
Survivors will be given a document at the hospital, which will provide them with a link, and other useful information, to access the online system. Victims will be given a tracking number which they can use to monitor their PERK kit. That way, no personal information will be stored in the system.
"This gives transparency and accountability to the process," said Herring. "Hospitals, survivors, law enforcement -- they will all have access to where the kit is, so they can check and see what it is."
In addition, Herring said all agencies handling the kits will be required to update that kit's status. Once law enforcement receives the kit, they have 60 days to send it to DFS. The system will notify law enforcement when kits are overdue to be submitted for analysis.
"A key component to crime victim's rights is access to timely information and notification," said Lawton. "So we really feel like that system brings that concept into the 21st century and utilizes technology that’s needed for ease of access for survivors."
The PERK tracking system began a soft launch in June. Five agencies are beta users of the system -- including VCU Health, Richmond Police, Henrico Police, VCU Police, and DFS. Between those five agencies, 300 kits have been entered into the system.
The mandatory launch date is July 1, 2020.