Essex one of five test areas to be given greater powers to support rape victims
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for Essex will be given greater powers to support more victims of rape and sexual abuse under plans announced yesterday by Government.
More than 3,700 sexual offences were recorded by police in Essex last year, and today’s announcement will give the PFCC full control to use their local knowledge to plan, prioritise and commission specialist practical and emotional services to better support victims.
The move comes as the Government plans to boost funding for rape and sexual abuse support services by 10 per cent across the country, bringing it to £24m over the next three years. The additional funding will go towards the vital advice, support and counselling these services offer to help victims cope with and, as far as possible, recover from these devastating crimes.
Ministers have acted to provide dedicated support organisations greater stability and security to ensure they can focus on delivering their essential services.
Justice Minister Edward Argar said:
“Rape and sexual abuse are devastating crimes, so I am encouraged that more victims are coming forward to receive support.
“Understanding local need is crucial in making sure victims can access the right services at the right time, which is why we’re committed to giving PCC’s more power to make decisions for their areas.
“By providing additional funding we are ensuring that victims can access vital practical and emotional support, so that fewer are left to suffer in silence.”
The announcement builds on the Government’s commitment to further devolve justice powers. Essex is one of five test PCCs (Greater London, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hampshire and Nottinghamshire) to be given full commissioning responsibilities for sexual violence and abuse services as Government recognises the importance of identifying local need when providing support.
In 2018/19 the Ministry of Justice allocated around £7.2m towards independent, specialist support to female and male victims of sexual violence, including victims of child sexual abuse. This will now increase to £8m annually over the next three years and is part of £96m worth of funding towards victim support services that has doubled since 2012/13.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex said:
“Providing specialist support for people affected by sexual violence and abuse is a vital part of helping them cope and recover from their experience and is a priority within my Police and Crime Plan. Commissioning services at a local level with our partners and based on local knowledge helps those in need of support receive a more effective and consistent service. In my Police and Crime Plan I have committed to putting victims at the heart of what we do and commissioning services based on regular feedback. Today’s announcement helps deliver against this promise by providing local services based on known local needs.”