Ministry of Justice Announce Further Investment
VICTIMS of rape and sexual assault will be helped by a further £5million for specialist support services, Justice Minister Wendy Morton MP announced today (18th September) as part of ongoing government efforts to ensure victims get the help they need and restore faith in the justice system.
The move will see a 50 per cent increase in the money available – up from £8m to £12m per year – for a range of services across the country, including tailored face-to-face support and counselling.
£1million will be invested into recruiting more Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs), who provide advice and support for victims, acting as the link between police, support services and criminal justice agencies. New national minimum standards for ISVAs will also be developed to ensure victims across the country receive consistent, high-quality support.
This additional funding will form part of a Rape Victims’ Pledge, which will provide additional support and information for victims, in order to make their engagement with the criminal justice system simpler and less distressing.
The Government is also accelerating plans to enshrine the support victims are entitled to receive in legislation – with a new Victims’ Law to be consulted on early in the new year. A revised Victims’ Code – which will clearly set out the minimum level of service victims can expect from criminal justice agencies – will also be published in early 2020.
Victims’ Commissioner for England & Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC said:
“Complainants of rape and sexual assault who have the courage to report their experience demonstrate immense bravery and must be given all the support they need so that justice can be done.“
“I very much welcome this additional funding but there is much more to do, including improving the way police and prosecutors handle these horrific crimes.“
Today’s announcement coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Government’s Victims’ Strategy, which aims to boost the support on offer to victims at every stage of the justice system.
Over a third of the commitments contained in the strategy have already been delivered, including abolishing the pre-1979 ‘same roof rule’ so that more victims of abuse can claim compensation for their ordeal, increasing and extending funding for sexual support services and consulting on strengthening the Victims Code.
Our CEO, Duncan Craig, said:
“We thoroughly welcome todays announcement by the Lord Chancellor and the Justice Minister, Wendy Morton MP. Like all services across the UK, we have seen a significant increase in requests for support and it is vital that when someone asks for help, we can respond.“
“Our therapy team has already grown to a team of 9; our ISVA team is now 4 strong; and our new Group Facilitator is welcoming an average 15+ men regularly to our original peer-led support groups – The Safe Room.“
“However, further investment for more therapists, more Safe Rooms, more therapy groups, more advocacy and further development of a ‘loved ones’ service for the family and friends of male survivors, the often forgotten heroes, is needed. We welcome all opportunties for investment and look forward to understanding the finer details of this increase in funding.“