Government Withdraws Rape Crisis Centre Funding

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has announced that it will no longer provide funding for the Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre (RC&SAC). However, it has said that it will continue to provide funding for services to victims of rape and sexual violence and will ensure that this money is directed into quality services.

The £60,000 funding previously provided to the Centre will now be made available to HSS Boards, who will use it to extend their existing service and in addition, the government is also considering the establishment of a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Northern Ireland as part of its cross government strategy to counter sexual violence.

Despite receiving extensive practical and financial support from the Department of Health over a number of years, the RC&SAC continually failed to meet the necessary government accounting requirements.

Dr Andrew McCormick, Permanent Secretary at the DHSSPS said: “The decision to cease funding for any organisation which provides a service to vulnerable people is never taken lightly. However, on this occasion, the Department was left with no other option.

“The Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre despite significant grant aid towards its core administration costs, has not complied with the terms and conditions of its funding for some time. We have worked very closely with the organisation, providing significant support to try and help it meet the required standards. Indeed, the level of support was far beyond that given to other voluntary organisations which reflects the Department’s commitment to help the RC&SAC resolve its difficulties.

“Despite the level of assistance provided, the RC&SAC has not complied with government accounting requirements and we cannot, therefore, continue to fund them.”

He added that he aims to assure victims of sexual violence that there will be no reduction in the level of funding currently available for services.

Dr McCormick continued: “I want to assure anyone, both children and adults, who have suffered sexual abuse, regardless of whether this happened recently, or many years ago, that there is help out there for them. GPs will refer victims to appropriate services in their local health trusts who have links with a wider network including health professionals, police and specialist voluntary services.

“Where children are involved, they work together to safeguard the child. The PSNI CARE units have specially trained staff which have considerable experience in dealing with adult and child victims of sexual abuse.

“Voluntary organisations such as NEXUS and ChildLine provide counselling and support for victims and many other organisations including Women’s Aid and Victims Support will offer a listening ear and information on support for victims.”