As of Wednesday 7th December, victims of rape across England and Wales will have access to “round-the-clock” support following the launch of a new 24/7 Support Line.
Specialist operators – available via telephone or webchat – will be on hand at any time to provide victims with vital information and emotional support.
This includes signposting to local, longer-term services such as Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA), with the research suggesting those who speak to an ISVA are 49% less likely to withdraw from the criminal justice process.
The government-funded service will be operated by Rape Crisis England & Wales who have over three decades’ experience running a helpline for rape and sexual abuse survivors.
It will be available to anyone aged 16 years and over who has experienced any form of sexual violence and abuse, at any point in their life.
Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said:
“When victims feel believed and supported, they are much more likely to stay the course in the criminal justice process. This vital helpline will have a major role to play in providing the support victims need, and in bringing more vile criminals to justice.”
“We welcome the government’s investment in a 24/7 support helpline, delivered by the great long-standing specialist service Rape Crisis, to provide round-the-clock support for survivors of sexual violence,” said Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, adding:
“We hope this will ensure survivors get the right response, first time – which we know is key to recovery after abuse. We’re hopeful this will also lead to an improvement in reporting and convictions of sexual offences.
As well as providing much-needed support to survivors, it is crucial we send a strong message to women that they will be heard, they will be believed, and they will be helped.”
Emily Hunt, independent advisor to the government on the Rape Review, said:
“After I was raped, I quite literally was begging for help and support. And there wasn’t any – at least not when I needed it. Now, victims in England and Wales can reach out to trained specialists on the support line, whether it’s 2am or 2pm, whether they want to speak to someone on the phone or use web chat.
They will be heard, they will be believed and they will be helped. This is the service that I needed then, and I am so happy to have been involved in making sure that victims now have the support that I didn’t.”
As well as this, specialist sexual violence support is being piloted at three Crown Courts: Leeds Newcastle, and Snaresbrook in London. It seeks to provide victims with enhanced at-court support and help increase throughput of cases. This work includes the introduction of trauma-informed training for court staff, maximising the use of technology, and access to ISVAs at court.