Extra ISVAs will provide support for sexual violence victims
More victims of sexual violence in Cleveland will have access to an expert advocate to guide them through the criminal justice system, thanks to a £116,000 national investment secured by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Ministry of Justice funding will pay for two additional Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) to operate across the Cleveland area between 1 July 2020 and 31 March 2022.
An ISVA is specially trained to provide emotional and practical support for victims of rape or sexual assault. Their main role is to support around the criminal justice process, but they are independent from the police and are not legal advisors.
In Cleveland, the ISVA service is delivered through Middlesbrough-based charity Arch North East. In the last 12 months, the service offered 5,712 sessions of support, including 467 new assessments, 1,371 face to face meets and 151 court support sessions.
Of the 321,190 people aged 16-59 living in Cleveland, it’s estimated 14% have been subjected to some form of sexual violence since they turned 16.
The Covid-19 crisis is expected to cause further demand for ISVAs, as delays to court proceedings will extend the amount of time victims require specialist support and advice.
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “We’ve made great progress in streamlining our ISVA service to just one provider, Arch North East, who do a fantastic job of supporting victims of sexual violence – whether they want to report to the police or not. For many victims, an ISVA becomes a lifeline as they navigate the challenges of the criminal justice system together.
“These two additional workers will enable the service to continue to provide their high-quality advice and support, but will also allow them to respond to increasing reports of sexual violence and the inevitable court delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The additional ISVAs will join a team 9 ISVAs and 2 part-time Life Enhancement Skills Advisors (LESAs,) who also provide support to victims across the entire county.
Arch North East CEO Nicky Harkin said: “This is fantastic news the funding will allow us to respond to the demands being placed on the service as the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 become known.
“We can continue to ensure Independent advocacy and a safe and confidential space for men, women and children across Teesside affected by sexual violence and abuse.”
Posted on Friday 17th July 2020