New rape centre is welcomed

PLANS to provide state-of-the-art facilities for Scarborough victims of rape and serious sexual assaults have been unveiled.

Victims of sexual attacks in the Scarborough and surrounding North Yorkshire area do not currently have access to a Sexual Assault Reporting Centre, which is a one-stop facility where examinations, counselling and police services are provided under one roof.

However under new plans, a centre would be developed in York, with services also being commissioned in Humberside and Teeside.

Pauline Carruthers, founder and chief executive officer of the Scarborough-based HOPE charity for victims of rape and sexual assault, welcomed the move and said it could see more perpetrators of sexual assaults put behind bars.

She said: “I think it’s brilliant news. We have been desperate for one of these centres.

“It will definitely help identify the perpetrators and hopefully see more of them in court and jailed for their crimes.

“At the moment, a rape victim might have to go to three or four places over hours and hours. It can be as traumatic as the rape itself.”

The move would bring North Yorkshire in line with national guidelines, which have stated that every area should have a centre.

An update on the progress towards a Sexual Assault Reporting Centre will be given at a meeting of the North Yorkshire Police Authority on Friday.

As it stands currently, North Yorkshire Police have admitted that two of three suites for victims of sexual assaults and rapes, including one in West Ayton, do not meet standards expected by victims.

Their low level of suitability could impact on the quality of evidence police are able to gather, meaning sexual predators could potentially walk free because of deficiencies in the facilities.

The provision of Sexual Assault Reporting Centre services is expected to cost almost £200,000 annually.