VICTIMS of sexual violence are continuing to benefit from specialist support and services thanks to a successful partnership between the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex and a leading rape charity.
The South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre (SERICC), based in Thurrock, is a nationally renowned charity. Established in 1984, SERICC provides support to women, girls and boys over the age of 4 in Basildon, Brentwood and Thurrock who have been victims of sexual violence.
The PCC Nick Alston and his team have worked closely with the charity to ensure high quality support for victims expands and is enhanced across the county.
As of October last year, the responsibility for commissioning local victims’ services – such as specialist counselling for victims of rape, advocacy for victims of domestic abuse, support for hate crime victims etc – has been transferred from the Ministry of Justice to Police and Crime Commissioners.
As part of his commitment to support victims of sexual violence, Mr Alston’s office has given Â£45,000 to SERICC to continue to support victims of rape and sexual abuse.
The PCC also successfully bid for Â£277,000 of Ministry of Justice cash which was shared between SERICC and other Essex groups supporting victims of sexual abuse.
SERICC is also working in partnership with the Colchester-based Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse (CARA) to provide support for rape and child sexual abuse victims, both adults and children in West Essex. This support is expected to be in place from April this year.
Additionally, Mr Alston also provided Â£25,000 to help SERICC provide support to the Southend on Sea Rape Crisis (SoSRC).
Mr Alston met with SERICC’s director Sheila Coates on Thursday (12 February) to discuss the charity’s ongoing work with victims in Essex.
He heard how the charity is now involved in the national child abuse inquiry, which is due to begin soon, is working with the children’s commissioner and the national Sexual Violence Task Force as it continues to drive forward its agenda for supporting victims of sexual violence and ensuring other agencies also provide them with the best service possible.
Mr Alston said: “SERICC provide excellent support for victims of sexual violence in Essex, but crucially works nationally and locally to ensure other agencies – such as the police and Ministry of Justice – are doing all they can to ensure victims are heard and receive the best service possible.
“The people supported by SERICC have been subjected to sexual violence – one of the most heinous crimes of our time – and the support the charity gives them is invaluable at what is the worst time in their life.
“It is an honour to work with SERICC and be able to support such vital work across Essex.
“Our meeting was both enlightening, to hear about the important national work of SERICC, and positive in terms of ensuring a continued, successful partnership between the charity, my team and I.”
Sheila Coates MBE, Director at SERICC, said: “The problem of sexual violence is one, regrettably, that is not going away.
“We are seeing more and more victims approaching us for help. The relationship we have with the PCC and financial support he has given us is helping us to extend the services we provide to other parts of Essex, so victims of sexual violence do not have to cope alone.”
The PCC and Ms Coates also discussed problems that have recently been uncovered regarding 30 child abuse investigations carried out by Essex Police’s North Child Abuse Investigation Team.
The PCC added: “In light of this it is even more imperative that both I and Essex Police work closely with groups, like SERICC, to understand the needs and issues of supporting victims of sexual violence.”
If you have been a victim of rape or sexual abuse, call SERICC on 01375 380609 or visit www.essexvictimsgateway.org.