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Sexual Offences: Victim Support Schemes

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Chair, Education Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to support survivors of (a) rape, (b) attempted rape and (c) sexual assault through the process of trial.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Serious sexual violence and rape are horrendous crimes. It is essential that victims and survivors of these crimes have access to support when and where they need it most.

In accordance with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (Victims’ Code), a person is entitled to support if they have suffered harm, including physical, mental or emotional harm or economic loss, which was directly caused by a criminal offence. They are entitled to access victim support services at any time, whether they have reported a crime or not.

In March this year the Government increased funding available to these essential services by 10% - up to £8m per year and totalling £24m over the next three years to specialist sexual violence and abuse support services across England and Wales. This enables these services to provide advice, support and counselling to victims of these appalling crimes to help them cope with and, as far as possible, recover from the effects of crime. Part of this funding will go towards Independent Sexual Violence Adviser’s to provide impartial advocacy for victims of sexual violence and abuse who have reported to the police or are considering reporting to the police. This funding ensures that, for the first time, that there are government-funded services in all 42 of the country’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) areas. This is in addition to the £68m we allocate to PCCs to locally deliver support services for victims of crime, including for victims of sexual violence.

Moreover, in the cross-government Victim’s Strategy, which we published on 10 September 2018, we made a commitment to improve support for victims of crime, including by increasing the number of registered Intermediaries, communication experts helping vulnerable victims and witnesses give their best evidence at police interview and at court.

The Government also recognises the importance of understanding the decline in the number of rape and serious sexual offences reaching court and being charged. It is vital that we grasp this issue, which is the Criminal Justice Board (CJB) has committed to a cross-government end-to-end review of the Criminal Justice System’s response to serious sexual violence and adult rape. We have established a sub-group of the CJB to oversee this review and continue to engage regularly with specialist stakeholders and victim organisations to ensure that the victim experience is central to our work.

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