Victims of rape and sexual assault will have improved access to expert advice, support and counselling following the go-ahead for four new rape support centres. This takes the total number of centres to 78 across England and Wales. The new centres will open in areas where victims suffer without access to specialist support, and will be based in Reading, Avon and Somerset, Lincolnshire and Central Lancashire. They build on the nine new rape support centres established since 2010.
The centres are to be created as part of the £4 million that will be dedicated next year to helping victims of sexual abuse rebuild their lives. It will also provide much-needed financial support for existing centres across England and Wales; part of the Government’s promise to put rape support centres on a stable financial footing. This comes after years of uncertainty and ad hoc funding which has put services in jeopardy. Visiting a recently opened rape support centre in Trafford, Victims’ Minister Helen Grant said: ‘I want more victims of rape or sexual assault to come forward and get the specialist help they need to recover from these sickening crimes. With one in 20 women reporting they were the victim of a serious sexual offence last year, it is so important they are not left to suffer in silence. ‘For the first time Government is giving organisations who do so much, the long-term funding needed to put them on a more secure footing - a key pillar of our plan to tackle the appalling legacy of violence against women and girls. That’s why we’ve ensured nearly £4 million will be available to help maintain rape support centres over the next year.’ Since 2010 new centres have already been established in Northumbria, Leeds, Southend, Suffolk, mid-Wales, Hereford, Devon, Dorset and Trafford. The four centres announced today will be open within the year.