20 June 2024

Nearly £635k Extra funding for domestic abuse and sexual violence victims in Wiltshire

Today (12th July 2022) it has been announced that nearly £635,000 worth of funding will be used to support victims of domestic abuse in Wiltshire over the next three years after a successful bid by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

The latest announcement by the Ministry of Justice, at the beginning of the month, means that funding for the services will be boosted by £211,000 a year for the next three years – and this in addition to the money the OPCC already provides and awards to services.

A detailed breakdown of how the £633,000 extra funding will be spent has yet to be finalised but it will be used to support victims of domestic abuse in Wiltshire.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Philip Wilkinson said, “It is vitally important my office ensures services which are there for victims and survivors in Wiltshire have the money they need to provide to best possible support.

“That’s why this extra funding is so important as it means service providers can have the confidence to make plans knowing that the funding will last over a longer term.

“Improving the experience for victims, as well as providing vital support, is one of the priorities of my Police and Crime Plan. After seeing the work of the SARC and organisations such as Splitz and Swindon’s Women’s Aid, I’m hopeful this money will help them to do more – and ensure support services are available at the precise point they are needed by victims, children and vulnerable people.”

Claire Marshall, Splitz Support Service Chief Executive, said, “This funding gives the team at Splitz Support Service the opportunity to enhance the service we provide to people dealing with domestic abuse and sexual violence.

“Our referrals have doubled since the pandemic which shows the sheer volume of people needing our help and these new posts will go help us and our partners support more people than ever before.”

The announcement comes as Wiltshire Police Force joins Operation Soteria Bluestone, a scheme that takes a new approach to investigating rape by focusing on the suspects, not the victims. It involves academics working with police forces to examine their handling of rape cases and make recommendations for operational changes.

Wiltshire Police’s Detective Superintendent Sarah Robbins said, “We are pleased to be one of the latest fourteen police forces to join Operation Soteria Bluestone, contributing to developing a new national operating model for stronger and more efficient rape investigations.

“We have been working in partnership with our local CPS for the past 18 months to improve our approach in this area.  We look forward to working with the Operation Soteria team to further improve our support to victims and focus on the continual pursuit and prosecution of the people who carry out these awful crimes.”

The latest successful bid is in addition to the £180,000 awarded to the OPCC last month to pay for an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) and a Children & Young Persons Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA), who will join the Trowbridge-based charity Splitz Support Service. These posts are in addition to the six posts announced last year and funded by the OPCC.

Mr Wilkinson added, “Our strategy has been to increase the availability and accessibility of these specialist posts across the county, especially for those who may feel uncertain or unable to contact to our criminal justice partners.

“As a result of this, my commissioning team has been working closely with partners and providers to understand how best to meet their needs.

“These crimes have a huge impact on their victims and making sure they’re supported is at the heart of what we do. This is why improving their experience is one of the priorities of my police and crime plan.

“This very welcome funding allows us to continue with this expansion.”

Earlier last month, Mr Wilkinson also renewed £3.7m funding over the next seven years for specialist support services which help victims of serious sexual assault receive appropriate urgent medical care and access to crisis support counselling and, if they choose, forensic examination to provide evidence to assist police in a criminal investigation

The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), which has just been recommissioned by the OPCC on behalf of partners, is a result of money invested by the OPCC and Wiltshire Police (circa £2.2m), alongside the NHS (circa £1.5m).

Ensuring investment in specialist support services for victims of sexual violence, sexual offences and exploitation is a key priority for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

Mr Wilkinson said, “All of these funding bids add up to a substantial sum of extra funding being bought into the county to help victims, to help support them and also help to try and prevent harm from happening again.

“All of these elements combine to ensure my office is co-ordinating a comprehensive package of funding and support for victims of serious sexual assault, domestic abuse and children exposed to harm and violence.”

Written by
Beth Doherty
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Written by Beth Doherty