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New measures to support rape victims

  • Published: Wednesday, 15 April 2009

New measures have been introduced to improve the investigation and prosecution of rape and to provide support to victims. These include more funding for Sexual Assault Referral Centres and Independent Sexual Violence Advisers.

There are now 28 existing SARCs across England and Wales, with more under development

Help for victims of rape

One of the key measures intended to improve support for victims of sexual assault is greater funding for Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) and Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs).

SARCs provide victims with immediate medical help, counselling, forensic examinations and the opportunity to give evidence anonymously all in one place. The additional funding is for new and existing centres and is part of the government's pledge to have a SARC in every police force area by 2011.

ISVAs provide tailored support to victims throughout the criminal justice process. This funding will increase the number of ISVAs from 36 to 43.

Other measures include:

  • helping every police force to ensure that all victims are seen by a specially trained officer within an hour of reporting
    training for police officers on what do when a rape is first reported
  • a Rape Performance Group, led by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to monitor police and CPS performance on rape
  • making sure that the police involve specialist sexual violence voluntary sector services in delivering training programmes on rape for the police
  • specific rape sessions as part of the Violence Against Women and Girls consultation programme

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said: "There are few crimes more horrific than rape and we know it is a uniquely difficult crime to investigate. Every force has a responsibility to ensure that officers who come into contact with a rape victim are trained to support that victim. The package of measures we are announcing today will help ensure that the police and prosecutors are further equipped to investigate allegations of rape and secure justice for the victims.

"It is essential that every victim has immediate access to the services and support they need to come forward and report these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. I urge areas to apply for part of the new funding of up to £1.8 million so that we can work towards our target of having a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in every area and for victims to have access to the specialist advice of an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser."

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