Victims of sexual violence will soon benefit from £860,000 to increase access to Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs), Home Office Minister Alan Campbell announced today.
In total 18 new ISVA posts in the voluntary sector will be created, alongside additional funding for 23 existing positions. Grants of up to £20,000 will be used to support victims of sexual violence by helping them to access services and supporting them as their cases progresses through the criminal justice system.
“We want every victim of sexual violence to have access to the support they need to come forward, report these devastating crimes and help to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The government is committed to working with the voluntary sector which is why I am pleased to announce funding to ensure more victims will have access to specialist help from an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser.”
The government announced its commitment to provide further funding for ISVAs as part of its ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ strategy launched last year.
ISVAs are funded to work with victims of recent and historic serious sexual crimes to enable them to access the services they need in the aftermath of the abuse they have experienced.
They provide impartial advice to the victim on all options open to them, such as reporting to the police, accessing Sexual Assault Referral Centres, seeking specialist sexual violence organisations and other services like housing or benefits.
This announcement comes as Baroness Stern published her independent review into the handling of rape complaints by public bodies and agencies and further demonstrates the government’s continued support for victims of rape and sexual violence.
Vera Baird, Solicitor General, said:
“Rape is a devastating crime that traumatises victims and shatters lives. Public perception of the way rape complaints are handled lags behind reality. We warmly welcome Baroness Stern’s report which acknowledges the significant improvements we have made since 1997, but also identifies where work remains to be done. We want all victims to feel confident that when they come forward and report rapes it will be taken seriously and they will be treated with dignity and respect.”
Baroness Stern’s review highlights key challenges in improving the government’s response to rape and makes important recommendations as to how those challenges can be met. It particularly highlights the valued role of ISVAs.
Much has already been done to increase and improve the support available to victims of rape and sexual violence, to improve the criminal justice response and to change attitudes and help prevent sexual violence and abuse but there is still more to be done.
The recommendations will now be considered in full and a programme of action will be developed over the coming months.
The Government will also shortly provide a further £2.25 million to voluntary sector organisations that support victims of sexual violence.