Support bid for victims of sex crime

VICTIMS of sexual violence will have immediate access to medical assistance and police support thanks to a new specialist South Yorkshire centre, announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

The Rotherham facility is one of six new centres across the country unveiled by the Home Secretary at the Labour Party conference in Bourne-mouth yesterday.

The Sexual Assault Referral Centre will provide a one-stop location - probably at Rotherham Hospital - where victims can access support and health services. Forensic examiners will also collect evidence to assist any police investigation at the Moorgate Road hospital.

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Today Dr Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women’s rights, welcomed the move.

She said: “The proposed increase in the number of sexual assault referral centres is a positive step forward for rape victims.

“This centre will provide vital services for women in Rotherham at a time of crisis and can increase the chances of a conviction in rape cases.

Cash for the Rotherham project was bid for by senior officers from South Yorkshire Police and local health chiefs.

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Det Supt Kevin Morton of South Yorkshire Police said: “At the moment victims can get shunted around and introduced to lots of different people at what is already a traumatic time for them.

“The new centre will provide a one-stop shop where victims will have a health or police chaperone.”