Services for victims of sexual violence in Thurrock could be overhauled following landmark study

By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

Thurrock Council Offices

AN effort to bring major improvements to the services offered to victims of sexual violence in Thurrock could move forward as health bosses review a landmark assessment of the flaws in the system.

Thurrock Council’s Public Health team published the in-depth report at the end of 2019 and revealed that an estimated 12,101 residents had experienced a sexual assault since the age of 16 and of those, 56 per cent are said to have attempted self-harm.

It further concluded that 2,718 residents of all ages had experienced some form of sexual violence or abuse in the last 12 months.

However, the majority of these victims are being let down by a system which is fragmented, records inconsistent data and leaves many feeling they are unable to properly tell their story.

The assessment aims to highlight the urgent need for a complete overhaul of services that could see them being made responsible for overseeing personalised support for every victim and providing direct access to mental health support at the earliest opportunity.

It states: “Too often, we heard examples of agencies involved in sexual violence and abuse not working effectively together, of survivors having to tell their story multiple times, and of having to access a myriad of different agencies to obtain the support they required.

“Our ambition is for every survivor who makes a disclosure of sexual violence and abuse to be offered a comprehensive assessment to identify any appropriate support to help address their needs.”

Next week health bosses who make up Thurrock’s Health and Wellbeing Board will meet to discuss the proposals and they are being recommended to endorse its findings which will clear the way for a summit to be held in the spring that will bring together many services to discuss potential changes.

A report published ahead of next week’s meeting describes it as an opportunity to set a national example.

Labour Councillor Victoria Holloway, who chairs the council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee said: “This is the first step in bringing about changes that will ensure that residents get to the right service quicker.

“What may happen currently is someone goes to one service, that service might refer them to not quite the right person so they would be referred to another service and each time they would be having to tell their story. It can be a really distressing experience and it is not what should be happening.

“As a councillor I will be making sure this piece of work is seen through as I really believe that if we can get it right here in Thurrock we can help get it right for places beyond Thurrock.”

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