Rape crisis services to get funding boost

Rape Crisis Scotland
Rape Crisis Scotland

Victims of sex crimes are to receive additional support with an extra £1.85 million to be invested in vital services.

The Scottish Government announced the near doubling of funding for Scotland’s 14 rape crisis centres, including one in West Lothian, between 2016 and 2018.

One survivor has been supported by the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Team in West Lothian since 2011.

She said: “My worker was the one person who carried me through the whole process and I honestly don’t know how I would have got through it without her help and support.

“From my first meeting with her, she made me feel comfortable. She built up my confidence when I had none. She supported me through my journey and was there for me whenever I needed her.

“There was no such thing as a ‘stupid question’ to her and she built up a relationship of trust with me which was very difficult as I trusted no one at that time due to the damage he had done to me mentally.

“My worker really was my rock and the service that she provides is invaluable and definitely needed.”

Some of the funding will go towards advocacy and support workers to help those going through the criminal justice process and to fund a National Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator to coordinate work with young people on issues of consent and healthy sexual relationships.

The Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, said: “Organisations such as Rape Crisis Scotland are doing fantastic work across the country, providing a vital service and giving support and advice for victims of sexual violence.

“The number of sexual crimes reported to police rose by 11 per cent last year, with nearly half of that rise linked to an increase in reporting of historic crimes.

“We are strengthening the law, creating a hostile environment for potential abusers and our next major step will be the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill, providing extra powers against those who commit domestic abuse, harassment and sexual offences, and creating a new offence criminalising the appalling offence known as revenge porn.”

The latest recorded crime figures show that the number of sex crimes in Scotland has increased by 11 per cent in the last year with 9,557 instances being reported compared to the previous year when 8,604 were reported.

This increase is, in part, attributed to an increase in reporting of sexual crimes, including historic crimes.

Rape Crisis Scotland National Coordinator, Sandy Brindley, said:“We are delighted to receive significant additional funding to help rape crisis centres support survivors who are considering reporting to the police or are going through the police and court process.

“This funding will enable every rape crisis centre to employ a dedicated support and advocacy worker who will provide much needed support and assistance.”

Each of the 14 local centres is receiving an 80 per cent rise in financial support and Rape Crisis Scotland is also using the funding to expand its local service into West Lothian.

Earlier this month, Nicola Sturgeon outlined plans to tackle sexual violence and announced she was bringing forward the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill.