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Sexual Violence Support Services

Volume 663: debated on Thursday 11 July 2019

9. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the provision of support services for people who have experienced sexual violence. (911880)

The Minister for victims, my hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar), and the Minister for mental health, my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price), meet quarterly, and in their most recent meeting they discussed mental health support for victims of serious violence and sexual assault, as part of the Government’s continued work to implement an integrated system of care for victims.

A recent public petition brought by campaigner Fern Champion on the issue of funding for rape crisis centres has attracted more than 150,000 signatures. Fern’s experience, echoed by many, is that rape crisis centres are so oversubscribed that survivors are being turned away or are told to wait for up to two years before they can receive support. Will the Minister commit to meet me—preferably before the summer recess—to discuss how we ensure that all survivors of sexual violence can access support?

I am happy to commit the victims Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar), to that meeting; I am sure he will be very pleased with me. This is an important and serious issue, because rape crisis centres form an invaluable part of the service. I am glad to say that from April this year my Department has increased funding for specialised rape and sexual abuse support services by 10%—up by £8 million a year—and that, for the first time, we will have centrally funded services in all 42 police and crime commissioner areas. That is a sign of our deep commitment, but we will work further with the hon. Lady.