The government has announced £26 million of new specialist support measures for victims of rape and sexual violence.
The fund has been awarded to 62 specialist services over the next two years. Projects that will benefit include We Are Survivors, who provide male-specific sexual assault and rape support, as well as Trafford Rape Crisis, who support women in Greater Manchester offering a new holistic service which is specifically focused on supporting black and minoritised women.
The government said the fund was informed by rape victims to better understand their experiences and what they want from support services, helping to inform the commissioning of future support for victims. Other services include counselling and therapeutic services, advocacy, outreach, and group activities.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Alex Chalk KC described support for victims of sexual abuse as “vital to recovery”. He said:
“There is more work to do, but […] milestone demonstrates real progress in strengthening justice for victims of these appalling crimes.”
The funding comes as new CPS data shows charges for adult rape-flagged cases increased to 567 in the latest quarter, (January – March 2023), 5% over the 2016 quarterly average and the government’s Rape Review ambition of 538.
What’s more, in July all 43 police forces across England and Wales, and all rape prosecutors across the country, began implementing a new approach to dealing with rape and other serious sexual offences, ensuring forces conduct thorough investigations which put the focus on the suspect and centre the rights and needs of victims.
This new approach, developed through Operation Soteria and previously piloted in 19 police forces and nine CPS Areas, uses academic evidence and insight to enable forces and prosecutors to transform their response to rape and serious sexual offences.
Crucially, the government said its data also now suggests more and more victims are reporting these abhorrent crimes to the police – demonstrating an increase in victim confidence.
Jayne Butler, Chief Executive of Rape Crisis, said:
“The Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Fund provides vital funding for front-line services that provide specialist support to victims and survivors. The funding awarded will help them to continue their work providing specialist and trauma-informed support to victims and survivors impacted by all forms of sexual violence and abuse.”
Fay Maxted OBE, Chief Executive of The Survivors Trust, said:
“The Survivors Trust welcomes the funding made available to our specialist voluntary sector through the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Fund. Funding of this kind is vital in enabling community-based, voluntary sector rape and sexual abuse services to provide much needed counselling and other support to survivors.”