New county-wide support service for victims of sexual abuse
From April 2022 there will be a new Hampshire-wide Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) service for victims of all ages, the police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, Donna Jones, has announced.
The new contract is funded by the commissioner’s office and in partnership with Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth City Council and Southampton City Council.
Since 2017, 3,962 referrals for support have been received into the individual ISVA services covering Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton.
It is hoped that creating one service across the three areas will allow greater flexibility and consistency of service for all age groups across all areas.
ISVAs provide advocacy and practical and emotional advice and support to those who have experienced rape, sexual abuse or sexual violence or sexual exploitation at any point in their lives, and whether the victim has chosen to report to the police or not.
The nature of the support varies from case to case and will depend upon the needs of the individual and particular circumstances.
If reporting to the police, the ISVA will provide support from initial reporting, through the criminal justice process and beyond. An ISVA may also provide information on other services that may be required, such as health and social care, housing or benefits.
Police and crime commissioner Donna Jones said: “It is important that victims of rape and sexual assault or abuse feel listened to and receive practical, non-judgmental and compassionate support.
“We are seeing an increase in rapes being reported to the police, but the numbers of cases ending up in court is far too low.
“Rape has a devastating effect on victims and more needs to be done to increase charge rates and give more people the chance of seeing justice.
“It is vital we ensure those victims who do choose to report to the police are supported throughout the whole criminal justice process.
“The ISVA service makes a real difference to the lives of victims and survivors and the new contract will provide further improvements to the support on offer.”
The service will be provided by long-standing Southampton-based charity Yellow Door, and will support people of all ages and genders affected by sexual violence.
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