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Sexual Offences: Victim Support Schemes

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions she has had on (a) provision of and (b) funding for sexual assault referral centres. (277677)

The Government have committed to ensuring that every police force has access to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) by 2011. There are currently 28 SARCs operating with a further nine in development.

As part of the 2008-09 SARC funding round, the Home Office funded a team of experts led by the Department of Health to assist areas who have yet to develop a SARC with their plans for one, including providing advice on bids and suitable models. The team will be funded by the Department of Health from 2010.

In 2009-10, £1.6 million has been made available for new and existing Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs). £659,000 was allocated in September 2008. A further £941,000 was announced in April 2009 and organisations have until 3 June to submit bids.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions she has had on provision of funding for sexual assault referral centres by local authorities. (277678)

The Government have supported the establishment and development of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) network since 2003-04. However, because health and police budgets are devolved, SARCs must be resourced primarily at a local level if they are to be sustainable. Sources of funding for SARCs include police forces and primary care trusts, police authorities, hospitals, local authorities, local crime and disorder reduction partnerships and community safety partnerships, local criminal justice boards and donations from businesses and private benefactors. National service guidelines on developing SARCs have been produced jointly by the Home Office and Department of Health which strongly encourage those who commission health and police services to invest in SARCs in line with local assessments of need.

In addition, as part of the 2008-09 SARC funding round, the Home Office funded a team of experts led by the Department of Health to assist areas who have yet to develop a SARC with their plans for one, including providing advice to areas on developing local partnerships and securing local funding. The Department of Health will be funding the team to continue this support until 2011.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment has been made of the adequacy of provision of sexual assault referral centres. (277679)

The Government have committed to ensuring that every police force has access to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) by 2011. There are 28 SARCs operating and a further nine in development. Every Government office area has a SARC either in operation or in development.

As part of the 2008-09 SARC funding round the Home Office funded a team of experts led by the Department of Health to assist areas who have yet to develop a SARC with their plans for one. In 2009-10, £1.6 million has been made available for new and existing Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs). £659,000 was allocated in September 2008. A further £941,000 was announced in April 2009 and organisations have until 3 June to submit bids. Priority for funding will be given to areas that do not currently have access to a SARC.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions she has had with charities and groups that work with victims of sexual crime on Government assistance for them. (277680)

The Home Office provides core funding of £75,000 each to the two umbrella organisations representing victims of sexual violence: (i) Rape Crisis England and Wales; and (ii) The Survivors Trust. That funding has continued in 2009-10. In addition, the Home Office has contributed to the cross-Government Special Fund of £1.6 million for specialist sexual violence voluntary sector organisations which was announced on 19 March by the Minister for Women and Equality.

The Special Fund and other central Government funds are provided in addition to local funding which may be provided, for example, from local authorities, health bodies and charitable trusts. Local decision makers are best placed to assess local needs, and Government expect the majority of funding to the sexual violence voluntary sector to come from local sources. The Government recognise the ongoing funding problems experienced by the sexual violence voluntary sector, particularly in respect of accessing local funding. We are working with our delivery partners to consider what more can be done to assist organisations to access local funding. This follows on from the recommendations made by the Home Office's Stakeholder Advisory Group on Sexual Violence and Abuse Funding Sub-group.

In addition the Government Equalities Office has commissioned a research project to help improve our understanding of the stability and sustainability of the violence against women voluntary sector, including sexual violence services. We aim to develop a long-term funding strategy for the sector later this year.