In the Media

?2.5 million support for sexual violence victims

PUBLISHED March 30, 2006

Victims of domestic and sexual violence will be better supported thanks to ?2.5 million in funding announced by Baroness Scotland QC.

The funding is part of the Government's ongoing work to reduce gender-based violence and ensure the needs of victims are met at every stage of the criminal justice process.

Around ?2 million will contribute to new dedicated domestic violence advisors in the specialist domestic violence court areas in England and Wales.

The cash will also fund for the first time expert advisors for victims of sexual crime in Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) or specialist sexual violence voluntary organisations across the country.

Baroness Scotland said: "Tackling all aspects of violent crime is paramount to the safety of our communities - if we do not have safe households we cannot have safe neighbourhoods.

"Domestic and sexual crimes are some of the most damaging physically and emotionally to victims and it is essential that victims have the confidence to stand up for their right to live without fear of violence.

"Our new specialist domestic violence courts give both victims and witnesses a stronger platform to get their voices heard. Building on this success, this new funding will work to raise the standard of care, information and support available to domestic and sexual violent crime victims through local community-based support organisations.

"As well as increasing support for victims, we are sending a strong message to perpetrators that these crimes will not be tolerated.

"Today, the Government launched a consultation on new measures designed to increase conviction rates in reported rape cases - only six per cent of which currently result in a conviction.

"This package of measures will contribute to this Government's aim to ensure that victims' needs are at the heart of the criminal justice system and bring more perpetrators to justice."

Independent Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Advisors are professionally trained specialists working alongside a victim from the point of crisis, such as their initial call to the police or visit to casualty.

Their role is to ensure the safety of the victim is coordinated across the criminal justice system while giving expert advice on accessing essential services such as victim and witness agencies, housing, health, counselling and child care.

The funding was announced at a national conference for Domestic Violence Coordinators and Domestic Violence Police Force Champions, where Baroness Scotland outlined a model of coordinated community response to domestic violence developed from the specialist domestic violence court programme.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP said: "We want to make sure that we do everything we can to ensure that the criminal justice system supports victims of domestic violence and plays its part in prosecuting this crime.

"We need a culture change which ends the excuses and ensures that people can live in their own homes free of fear.

"I am very pleased that domestic violence advisors will be on hand to help and advise victims in the 21 specialist domestic violence courts in England and Wales."

The money will also contribute towards start-up costs of new Sexual Assault Referral Centres on top of the ?4 million already made available over the past two years for services for victims of sexual violence and abuse.