Wiltshire’s PCC commits £3.7m to support victims of sexual violence
Specialist services in Wiltshire which support victims of serious sexual assault will benefit from £3.7m of funding over the next seven years after the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner renewed his commitment to improve the experience of victims and deliver justice.
The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), which is based in Swindon, ensures victims and survivors of sexual assault receive appropriate urgent medical care and access to crisis support counselling and, if they choose, forensic examination to provide evidence to assist police in a criminal investigation
Ensuring investment in specialist support services for victims of sexual violence, sexual offences and exploitation is a key priority for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC). The SARC service, which has just been recommissioned by the OPCC on behalf of partners, is a result of money invested by the OPCC and force (circa £2.2m), alongside the NHS (circa £1.5m).
This investment helps the PCC to deliver against Priority 4 in Making Wiltshire Safer: Police and Crime Plan 2022-25 - the strategic blueprint for police and OPCC priorities for the next three years.
Wiltshire and Swindon PCC Philip Wilkinson added: “Regardless of whether victims and survivors of sexual violence choose to report to police or not, our SARC ensures they have the appropriate support and medical care in place in the immediate aftermath of an offence being committed.
“While this service is available for all victims and survivors, irrespective of gender, we know that women are disproportionately affected by sexual violence and tackling violence against women and girls continues to be a priority in my police and crime plan to make Wiltshire safer for all.
“I continue to work with Wiltshire Police, and those in the wider criminal justice system, to not only ensure appropriate victim support is in place but also to ensure justice is served when these offences are reported and most importantly, prevent them from happening in the first place.”
Amy Mitchell, SARC Service Delivery Manager, welcomed the continued commitment to helping victims of sexual violence.
"The SARC, here in Swindon, is a safe place," she added. "We can guarantee that regardless of what has happened, you will be believed, you will be in control and you will not be judged.
"Even if you are not sure if you want to come in, you can always call for anonymous advice and a conversation with someone who understands what your needs might be. Your welfare is our priority."
The collective commissioning of SARCs by South West Police and Crime Commissioners, their respective police forces and NHS England, recently received a national award in recognition of the teamwork that has gone into the procurement and delivery of SARCs across the region.
All victims of sexual violence, regardless of whether you are male or female, can seek support from the SARC without reporting to police. To contact them call: 01793 781916.