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Supporting victims of sexual abuse across Essex

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex has awarded contracts totalling £1.3 million a year to a consortium of local rape crisis centres to provide specialist support to adult and child victims of rape and sexual abuse, and to Mountain Healthcare to provide specialist forensic medical services to victims of sexual abuse, across Essex for up to 5 years.

South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre (SERICC), Southend-on-Sea Rape Crisis (SOS Rape Crisis Centre) and CARA (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse) are independent charities that provide support services to adults and children affected by sexual abuse, including rape and sexual assault, and to adult survivors of child sexual abuse. These organisations joined together to form a partnership and successfully won the contracts to run the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service and a community-based support service for victims of sexual abuse.

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Supporting victims of crime is at the heart of my work as PCC, and I am delighted that high quality specialist support for adult and child victims of rape and sexual abuse will now be available across Essex. Following a detailed procurement process to ensure that the new services will make effective and efficient use of this Ministry of Justice funding, I have decided that Essex-based organisations SERICC, SOS Rape Crisis Centre and CARA will run these important services. If you are a victim of rape or sexual abuse in Essex, you will now have access to a high level of support in your local area. This is a good and important development for victims of these horrific crimes, and will hopefully also help them recover from their ordeal.”

These contracts will supplement existing rape crisis centre services supported by the Ministry of Justice and by local and national funders.

The ISVA service provides critical support to victims of sexual abuse by, supporting victims through the process of reporting crime and going through the criminal justice and court process should they wish to do so. ISVAs will also support victims emotionally and provide advice on where they can access counselling services or other support.

Victims can access an ISVA via a referral from a professional, such as police or health organisations or alternatively via the 3 rape crisis centres in Essex; contact details are available via the Essex Victims Gateway.

The Community Support contract focuses on longer term ‘wraparound’ therapeutic support including face to face counselling, general advocacy, group work and direct work with children, parents and families. It may also include providing victims with information and signposting to additional services to support their recovery.

Helen Parr, Director of CARA (Centre for Action on Rape & Abuse) said “We are delighted to be working with South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre and Southend-on-Sea Rape Crisis Centre as an Essex-wide partnership to deliver these vital services to victims and survivors of sexual violence. In awarding this tender, the PCC has recognised the specialist services that all three centres provide.

“According to the British Crime Survey 2.9% of the population have been the victim of a sexual offence in the previous 12 months. In Essex, this equates to 26,118 individuals. However only around 15% of sexual offences are reported to the police (Ministry of Justice). Essex Police recorded 2,453 sexual offences in 2014/15. This huge demand continues to put pressure on the services provided by all three centres.

“The PCC funding will go towards meeting some of the costs of our specialist services, and we are particularly grateful that it has been awarded for a period of three years, enabling us to look to the future and plan quality services.”

This new service complements the Sexual Abuse Referral Centre that the PCC for Essex recently re-commissioned with NHS England. That service will see Mountain Healthcare provide specialist forensic medical services to victims of rape and sexual assault via the Sexual Assault Referral Centre at Oakwood Place, Brentwood. This service will commence on 1st April 2016 and replaces a service currently delivered by G4S. The value of the contract is £660,000 per annum.

Professor Vanessa Webb, Medical Director of Mountain Healthcare, said: “Mountain Healthcare will ensure the provision of dedicated and high quality healthcare and forensic examination services for victims of sexual violence. There is no need to feel alone and our specially trained team will offer a free, confidential and safe service to women and men in Essex. Our service is 24/7 and led by specially trained healthcare professionals who place the people we serve at the heart of everything we do. Our service is pivotal in reducing the risks posed to individuals and supporting the criminal justice system in bringing perpetrators to justice.”

The new ISVA and Community-based support contracts will commence on April 1st 2016 and have a combined value of £680,000 per annum. The contracts are for 3 years with the option to extend by a further 2 years. The successful bidder was chosen by a panel made up of representatives from the PCC’s Office, NHS England and Thurrock Council.

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PFCC for Essex, Kelvedon Park, London Road, Rivenhall, Witham, Essex, CM8 3HB
01245 291600

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