Frontline responders need to do more to support victims of sexual violence
Posted 13 November 2019
A consultation with people who have experienced sexual violence in Cheshire has given an accurate picture of how support services are operating across the county.
It revealed that the services are excellent and vitally important for those experiencing crisis and trauma but it also identified some areas whereby the existing service provided to victims could be enhanced, in particular by those who are first to respond to these crimes.
The consultation identified a gap in the knowledge of some frontline workers, including police officers responding to sexual violence incidents.
Survivors of rape and sexual abuse, along with service providers who help people recover from their ordeal, were asked for their views on after care services as part of consultation led by Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner.
In response, PCC David Keane has brought together key decision makers across Cheshire to discuss how they can enhance existing partnership working to improve services for survivors.
A range of organisations, including local authorities, health providers, charities and support services attended the event to understand the needs of survivors and how they can work together to improve support mechanisms.
It follows an independent review of the current service provision facilitated by the commissioner’s office and funded by NHS England to build on and improve existing aftercare services.
PCC David Keane said:
“Crimes of sexual violence are extremely serious and abhorrent and can have life-changing impacts on survivors. I am committed to doing everything possible to put survivors first and ensure the best level of support is available to help people cope and recover from their ordeal.
“The needs of survivors of these crimes, and their experience of the criminal justice system, are not always fully understood. That’s why I wanted to put survivors at the heart of the consultation to give them a voice.
“Some important learning points came out of the consultation so it was important to bring key partners together to discuss how we can improve things. I hope the conversations had between service providers and decision makers about improving our approaches will see Cheshire deliver one of the best quality support services to all victims of sexual violence.”
In response to the findings of the consultation, the commissioner has a range of plans to take forward including the production of a range of videos to promote services to benefit other survivors and also to produce training packages, which are scenario led, to educate frontline staff on the incidents they might face. They will be used in all police officer training.