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Crime: Victims

Volume 701: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether rape victims and persons leaving prostitution will benefit from (a) the follow-up to the Tackling Violence Action Plan, and (b) social inclusion policies; and to what extent local partnerships providing services for people in these categories will be helped from central funds. [HL3166]

The Tackling Violence Action Plan, published on 18 February, set out the Government's priority areas of work to tackle serious violent offences, including rape, sexual exploitation and prostitution.

In relation to rape, the action plan focuses on improving the investigation and prosecution of cases and providing enhanced support for victims by continuing to monitor local performance of police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service and on a commitment to more than double the current number of sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) and continue to support the national rollout of independent sexual violence advisors (ISVAs). The action plan also contains a commitment to consider the feasibility of setting up a national sexual violence helpline.

We have committed significant resources to ensuring that all victims of sexual violence will be able to access a SARC and an ISVA within the next three years. It is important to ensure that services are sustainable. As police and health budgets are devolved, Home Office funding is intended to supplement funding provided locally. The action plan and the new public service agreements on making communities safer and justice for all are key to ensuring that local funding providers prioritise and take seriously the issue of sexual violence and support local services.

In relation to sexual exploitation and prostitution, the action plan restates our commitment to take forward a range of measures under the existing co-ordinated prostitution strategy and the UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking. It also sets out a commitment to conduct a review of what more can be done to tackle the demand for prostitution and to reform the law on street offences to support routes out of prostitution and exploitation. Ensuring that dedicated work takes place to support routes out of prostitution is also part of the action plan. A decision on how this work will be taken forward is likely to be made early in the financial year.