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VAWG response in Merseyside gets £3.2m boost from PCC

Victims of sexual violence will benefit from a new multi-million pound partnership.

Merseyside has announced a significant upgrade to its support to victims of sexual violence.

A £3.2m partnership with NHS England and the region’s five local authorities has been created in response to rising concern at poor outcomes after incidents involving rape and sexual assault.

Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell has brought together NHS England and Knowsley plus Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral Councils to create a five-year package of funding to support victims.

The multi-year funding deal has been signed off to ensure the long-term future of providers.

It will be delivered by RASA Merseyside and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) Merseyside and Cheshire.

The two charities will share £649,500 a year from April 2022 to March 2027 to deliver the pan-Merseyside service, with RASA providing support to victims in Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral and RASASC delivering the service in Knowsley and St Helens.

The services will be available to anyone affected by sexual violence, no matter whether the incident was reported or not.

Support includes an information and reporting phone line, specialist counselling services and dedicated Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs) who support and guide survivors through the criminal justice system.

The government has demanded forces improve the number of convictions in rape and sexual assault cases. A critical issue has been supporting victims through both the investigation and subsequent court proceedings.

The Home Office has created a new duty for all partner agencies to work together to in line with existing practice for child protection.

In September last year, the force responded to the HM Inspectorate’s report into the policing response to Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) with a commitment to a radical refocus and creating wrap-around, tailored support for victims.

In response to the report HMI, Assistant Chief Constable Ngaire Waine, said the force could not make improvements alone.

“We know the strength of working together in partnership when it comes to tackling VAWG and supporting vulnerable people,” she said. 

As with many other specialist responses to serious crime, third sector groups are the main providers and they have warned they cannot develop services based on single-year grants.

RASA Merseyside’s Finance and Strategic Development Manager Josephine Wood said the announcement was significant: “Month on month, the need for our services grows and we look forward to a long period of stability to enable us to develop further services to give victims and survivors the support they need and deserve after such abuse.”

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