Improved Support For Victims Of Sexual Violence

{mosimage} A new network of expert advisors to give victims of sexual violence better care and support at every stage of the criminal justice process was unveiled today by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker.

Thirty eight Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) will be working across England and Wales as part of a £3 million Government package to provide targeted professional support to victims of sexual violent crime.

The professionally trained specialists will work alongside victims from the point of crisis, such as initial contact with emergency services, throughout the legal process and beyond. The ISVAs will also work with victims and survivors outside of the criminal justice system.

Vernon Coaker said: “The Government is committed to combating sex offences – appalling crimes that devastate the lives of victims and their families and inspire fear in our communities.

“Advisors like the ones we are funding ensure that victims’ needs and safety are the top priority for all agencies throughout the criminal justice process so they can live without fear of future violence and access the services they need.

“Across Government we are working to improve the investigation and prosecution of sex offences and I want to send a strong message to perpetrators of these cowardly and sickening crimes that they will not be tolerated.

“By improving the standard of care, information and support available to sexual violent crime victims, more people will have the confidence to come forward to report crimes and most importantly, have the support to work with criminal justice professionals to bring perpetrators to justice.”

The advisors will be based in Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) or specialist sexual violence voluntary organisations and will link in with essential services such as victim and witness organisations, counselling and health, whilst ensuring the safety of the victim is co-ordinated across all agencies.

A SARC is a one-stop facility in which victims of sexual assault can receive medical care and counselling while assisting the police in investigating alleged offences. There are currently 15 SARCs in England and Wales, with a further six under development.

Angie Conroy, Chair of The Survivors Trust, said: “The Survivors Trust is really pleased to have played a part in ensuring that the funding for the ISVAs has gone directly to the specialist sexual violence voluntary sector, supporting both our service users and the sector itself.

“The ISVAs will be providing a crucial service for victims of sexual violence, supporting and empowering them and facilitating the optimum response to their needs. Our service users will greatly benefit from the independent advocacy and support the ISVAs will be able to offer and we sincerely hope that these posts and this valuable work will continue into the next financial year.”