Almost 3,000 Thurrock residents have been victims of sexual violence in a single year

Essex Police

By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

IT is estimated that almost 3,000 people in Thurrock have been victims of sexual violence and abuse over the past 12 months, a new report has revealed.

Thurrock Council has undertaken an extensive study of how prevalent sexual violence is within the borough and a report notes that there have been an estimated 2,718 victims in the past 12 months.

The council further predicts that there is a total of 12,101 residents who have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lifetime – the equivalent of almost 8 per cent of the population.

The majority of these victims are considered to be unknown to support services due in part to a reluctance to report the crime. In 2018, just 316 victims reported sexual offences.

The report notes: “This is still much lower than the 2,718 victims who are estimated to have experienced sexual violence and abuse in the last 12 months.”

Other problems identified is the fractured way in which support services operate, leaving many people – often suffering with poor mental health as a result of trauma – unwilling to engage with them. It is hoped that the report will lead to a major overhaul of services, with victims being given better access to counselling and mental health support.

Councillor Victoria Holloway, who chairs the council’s health overview and scrutiny committee, said the report was the result of almost a year of research.

“Before this there wasn’t a whole picture of sexual violence in the borough,” said Ms Holloway.

“The Clinical Commissioning Groups had some data, police had some other bit. This was about bringing it together and listening to people, asking what do they want to see from services? This is not just a clinician’s report.”

How those services will be streamlined will be the topic of a health overview and scrutiny committee held next week, where health professionals will come together to discuss the research.

Sheila Coates, director of South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre (SERICC) said: “This report is the first report of this kind to be published in Thurrock recognising the often lifelong impact and trauma of sexual crime.

“SERICC would like to thank Thurrock Public Health for recognising that this work had to be undertaken due to the increasing numbers of victims and survivors coming forward and Thurrock HealthWatch for undertaking an independent survey capturing the voices of victims and survivors.

“In the last year the three Essex Rape Crisis Centres who run the Essex wide service as SYNERGY Essex, responded to more than 8,000 victims, supporting individuals and their families, many of whom are experiencing mental health difficulties linked to trauma and are in need of information about the criminal justice system.

“With high profile cases and media continuing to ‘break the silence’ of sexual abuse we know that there are hundreds of victims and survivors yet to reach out for support.”

The report will be discussed in detail during a health overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, November 7.

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