More Funding Announced For Sexual Assault Referral Centres

The Home Secretary today announced the next steps in ensuring that every victim of sexual assault has access to a centre.

The Home Secretary pledged an extra £1.6 million to increase the support offered to victims of sexual assault. The new funding will go towards building ten new centres, with preference given to bids from areas with the greatest need.

She also announced an additional £100,000 to create a team of experts to target areas without a SARC and increase victims’ access to these facilities. The expert team will include representatives from the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Forensic Science Service and an experienced SARC manager.

Sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) (new window) provide victims with one location where they can receive immediate medical help, counselling, forensic examinations and the opportunity to give evidence anonymously.
Home Secretary’s statement

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said, ‘There are few crimes more horrific than rape, and I am determined to ensure that every victim has immediate access to the services and support they need.

‘I want to see a sexual assault referral centre (SARC) in every area, and I urge areas to apply for this new £1.6 million funding.

‘These centres not only improve the support we provide for victims but also encourage these crimes to be reported to the police. The expert medical advice available on site, and the forensic examinations are vital in bringing offenders to justice.’

This new funding is part of the commitment made by the government’s in the tackling violence action plan (February 2008) to double the number of SARCs from 19 to 38 by 2011. Progress has already been made, and there are now 22 SARCs in England and Wales, with more currently under development.
Statement from the Association of Chief Police Officers

John Yates, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead for rape and serious sexual offences and Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service, said, ‘ACPO welcomes the announcement of the additional funding to support the establishment of sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) across the country.

‘We have always said that these excellent facilities should be accessible to every victim of this terrible crime, no matter where they live. We know from experience and feedback what a dramatic difference they make, both in terms of care and support for victims, and in relation to giving investigators the best chance to build a successful case.’

Rape Crisis statement

The organisation Rape Crisis issued a statement saying:

‘Rape Crisis (England and Wales) fully support this move towards making SARCs sustainable and available to all. Those who report sexual assault deserve high quality responses.

‘Rape Crisis is pleased the government is making this money available for both new and existing SARCs.  SARCs are an important element in allowing victims of rape to access crisis medical and forensic support, whether or not the legal process goes ahead.

‘The provision of a team of experts to engage with key local partners is a forward step in enabling all areas of the country to offer SARC services as currently there is a postcode lottery of SARC and Rape Crisis provision.

‘The majority of Rape Crisis groups are either involved on steering and delivery groups for prospective SARCs or are currently delivering crisis and long term counselling services as part of the SARC support provision.  We hope to continue to work in equal partnership on this new initiative.’
Notes to editors

The Home Office has been involved in the expansion of the SARC network since 2003/4. There are now 22 existing SARCs with further under development.

These are:

    * Safe Island, Cardiff
    * Helen Britton House, Cleveland
    * Millfield House, Derbyshire
    * The Meadows, Durham
    * Elm Tree House, Dyfed Powys
    * St Mary’s SARC, Greater Manchester
    * Laburnum House, Gwent
    * The Treetops Centre, Hampshire
    * The Renton Clinic, Kent
    * The SAFE Centre, Lancashire
    * Juniper Lodge, Leicestershire
    * SAFE place, Merseyside
    * Haven Paddington, Met, London
    * Haven Camberwell, Met, London
    * Haven Whitechapel, Met, London
    * REACH, Rhona Cross Centre, Northumbria
    * REACH, Ellis Fraser Centre, Northumbria
    * The Topaz Centre, Nottinghamshire
    * Beech Tree Centre, Emily Phipps House, Swansea
    * Willow House, South Wales
    * Rowan Centre, West Midlands
    * New Swindon Sanctuary, Wiltshire

Ten grants of up to £75,000 are available to areas wanting to set up a new SARC. Existing SARCs can bid for one of 10 grants of up to £25,000 capital funding and one of 20 grants of up to £30,000 resource funding.

Existing SARCs can bid for funding for 2008-09 and 2009-10. The deadline for funding bids is 7/11/08; however there will be another opportunity to bid for 2009-10 funding in April 2009, which will also be £1.6 million for the financial year. Find application forms and more information on the Home Office Crime Reduction website. (new window)

Footage from inside a SARC can be viewed on the Home Office YouTube channel (new window).

National Service guidelines on developing SARCs were published jointly by the Home Office and the Department of Health in 2005. Wider roll-out of SARCs was also identified as a key action in the cross-government action plan on sexual violence and abuse, published in April 2007.

Research shows that SARCs are an important and effective tool in meeting the health and support needs of victims, and helping the police build better cases. SARCs have been highlighted as good practice in several reports, including the Report on the Joint Inspection into the Investigation and Prosecution of Cases involving Allegations of Rape (HMCPSI/HMIC, 2002); and Home Office Research Study 285, Sexual Assault Referral Centres: developing good practice and maximising potentials (Lovett et al,. 2004).