Sex assault victim centre approved

VICTIMS of rape or sexual assault in Scarborough will receive improved support and advice in the future.

Plans have been officially approved by North Yorkshire Police to develop a Sexual Assault Referral Centre, which the region has been lacking despite national guidelines saying one should be in place.

The centre, which will be developed in York, will offer victims a one-stop facility where examinations, counselling and police services are provided under one roof.

It is hoped that the provision of the centre will see more sexual offenders locked up and offer victims the best possible support.

Pauline Carruthers, founder and chief executive officer of the Scarborough-based HOPE charity for victims of rape and sexual assault, said yesterday: “I think this is fantastic news. At last victims of sexual assault and rape in this region will be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve for whatever ordeal they have been through.

“Hopefully this will also lead to more perpetrators of sexual crimes brought to justice.

“As one of the leading providers of rape and sexual assault crisis services in the region HOPE will be contacting North Yorkshire police to see what part we can play in this project.”

The cost of delivering the services will be £196,000, which translates to £126,000 in additional costs.

Within the next 12 months, it is hoped that the police force will recruit independent sexual violence advisors, a manager for the facility and crisis workers.

Services will be commissioned at Sexual Assault Referral Centres in the Teeside and Humberside areas, if victims have difficulty accessing the York facility.

Detective Superintendent Lewis Raw, North Yorkshire Police’s head of major and specialist crime, said: “We are very pleased that funding has been made available to provide more support and services for victims of one of the most traumatic and distressing of crimes.”

North Yorkshire Police and the NHS will be begin a review of the accessibility, reach and scope of services available for victims.

A spokeswoman for NHS York and North Yorkshire said: “Over the next eight months, a comprehensive consultation process will take place, involving victims, GPs, NHS Trusts, social services, family planning clinics, crime reduction and public health groups, charities and voluntary organisations.

“The review will lead to the creation of a strategic blueprint which will ensure that services continue to meet the needs of victims of rape and sexual assault.”