New support service for rape victims

Silhouette of a woman, posed by a model
Silhouette of a woman, posed by a model

Victims of rape and sexual assault in Yorkshire can turn to new centres for care and support.

The Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) provide a comfortable environment in which victims can receive counselling, undergo forensic examinations and get help and advice during the process of pressing charges.

They are part of a new service, introduced by NHS England and the Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), which has been put in place across the entire region.

It means victims will receive the same support regardless of where in Yorkshire and Humberside they are from.

And those working with victims will be able to better share their knowledge and expertise.

Chris Jewesbury, head of health and justice commissioning for NHS England North, said: “It is vital that we ensure victims of sexual assault get the right help and support in an environment which puts them at ease.

“By putting in place one single organisation which can provide this service right across Yorkshire and the Humber, clinicians will be able to work together in order to learn from each other so they are better equipped to deal with these complex and delicate issues.”

Each victim has access to a crisis worker, who can offer help and guidance from the moment the assault is reported until the end of any legal process.

Independent Sexual Violence Advocates are on hand to support them with practical tasks including contacting their employer on their behalf.

And the service also offers advice on pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

West Yorkshire PCC Mark Burns-Williamson, said: “It is a priority in my Police and Crime Plan to improve outcomes for the very vulnerable group of victims and survivors who experience this particularly serious crime.

“That means meeting their immediate health needs and making it as easy as possible for them to report the crime to the police (if they choose to do this) in a way that makes a successful prosecution and outcome more likely.

“The establishment of a dedicated SARC in West Yorkshire earlier this year was long overdue and a real milestone.

“The appointment of a single provider to deliver SARC services across the region builds on that.”

There are four SARCs around the region. Each are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.