Sexual violence

We are committed to combating sexual violence in our society. We want to send a clear message to victims and the public that sexual assault is unacceptable.

Rape and Sexual Violence are devastating crimes and we want to ensure that every victim has access to the specialist support they need.

The Home Office has responsibility for three main policy areas relating to sexual violence:

  • policy on improving prosecution and investigation of sexual offences (together with the Ministry of Justice, Crown Prosecution Service, the Association of Chief Police Officers, and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary).
  • input into policy on support to victims of sexual violence within the criminal justice system, (together with the Ministry of Justice, Government Equalities Office, Crown Prosecution Service and the Department of Health)
  • leading on work to prevent sexual violence, including tackling pervading  myths and attitudes about rape.

It is the government's ambition that every report of sexual assault be treated seriously from the point of disclosure; that every victim be treated with dignity and that every investigation; and that every prosecution be conducted thoroughly and professionally.

  • In the Home Office our focus is on the rights and welfare of the victim and we are committed to ensuring that every victim of sexual violence has access to appropriate support. In particular we have provided £1.72 million per year to part fund 87 Independent Sexual Violence Advisor posts on a stable basis from 2011/12 – 2014/15. We have also pledged to make an additional £1.2m available, for 3 years from 2012/13, to improve services for young people under 18 suffering sexual violence in our major urban areas. This is with a new focus on the girls and young women caught up in gang related rape and abuse.

Services for victims of sexual violence include the government’s on-going commitment to Rape Support Centres. The Ministry of Justice has put funding for rape support centres on a more sustainable basis and are establishing new rape crisis centres where there are gaps in provision with four opened to date in Hereford, Devon, Trafford and Dorset,  and five in development in Suffolk, Southend, Leeds, Northumbria and mid-Wales.

Stern Review

In March 2011, we published our full response to the Stern review. Baroness Stern's review into the way rape complaints are handled by public authorities in England and Wales was conducted in 2010.

Independent sexual violence advisers and Young Peoples Advocates

ISVAs are victims-focused advocates, funded to work with victims of recent and historic serious sexual crimes to enable them to access the services they need in the aftermath of the abuse they have experienced.

The support provided by an ISVA will vary from case to case, depending upon the requirements of the victim and their particular circumstances. However, the core role of an ISVA includes making sure that victims of sexual abuse have the best possible practical advice on what counselling and other services are available to them, on the process involved in reporting a crime to the police, and on taking their case through the criminal justice process, should they choose to do so.

On 8 March 2011, the government published a paper entitled  'Call to end violence against women and girls: action plan'. This paper emphasises our commitment to the frontline services which support victims of VAWG including sexual violence, and follows on from the strategic vision narrative which was published on 25 November 2010. Amongst the commitments made in November was an undertaking to provide central funding from the Home Office for specialist services to 2014/15.

We have made £1.72m funding per annum available to part fund 87 ISVAs working in the voluntary and community sector and in Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) from 2011/12-2014/15. part fund 87 ISVA. You can see the list of the organisations which were successful in their bids for Home office funding.

The Home Office and Skills for Justice launched the National Occupational Standards in July 2012 which has been developed to provide a national benchmark for ISVAs and others who provide support to victims of sexual violence which will develop the skills and competence of ISVAs.

We also launched an e-learning package for ISVAs (July 2012) which is an introductory course that defines the role by identifying boundaries, outlines the key areas involved in supporting victims of sexual violence, addresses self-care and sets out the legislation around sexual violence.

Young Peoples Advocates

  • In the Ending Gang and Youth Violence report the Home Office committed to make an additional £1.2m available, over the next 3 years from 2012/13, to improve services for young people under 18 suffering sexual violence in our major urban areas – with a new focus on the girls and young women caught up in gang related rape and abuse will further improve the provision of services available for young people to access help and support.
  • 13 Young People’s Advocates have been funded  across the country to provide direct support to young people who have been victims or who are at risk of sexual violence. They are working in the areas most affected by gangs and have an understanding of the specific risks associated with gang violence.
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