A new scheme to support the victims of sexual violence has been launched – as the PCC releases hard-hitting figures that show nine people a day are raped or seriously sexually assaulted in the West Midlands.
Public and voluntary organisations under the banner of the West Midlands Preventing Violence Against Vulnerable People Governance Board have worked together to produce a new set of standards committed to the protection and support of victims and to help them rebuild their lives.
The standards, subscribed to by the police, NHS, all the local councils and organisations such as CRASAC and RSVP, will be officially launched by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson at Public Health England in Colmore Row, Birmingham, on Thursday (22).
The standards detail what services should be delivered and how. They also set out the minimum level of support and understanding a victim should expect from whatever agency they turn to in their hour of need. To read them in full, click here.
The PCC today released figures detailing how many people are attacked in the region to show the full extent of the issue and how seriously organisations are taking it.
In 2015, there were 3,442 rapes or serious sexual assaults in the West Midlands Police force area. So far this year, there have been 2,624.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “These unthinkable crimes have a devastating effect on victims, who deserve the upmost support and understanding.
“More people are coming forward to report such horrific offences and I believe that is a sign of improved confidence in the police and support services on offer.
“However, there is always more to be done and ways to improve and these standards are part of that drive to be better.”
The standards come alongside ever-developing preventative work, including projects with young people in schools and youth groups to learn about healthy relationships, respect and equality.
The standards also send out a clear message that it is always the perpetrator who is to blame and never the victim.
Dianne Whitfield, Chief Officer of CRASAC (Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre), said: “All too often in the specialist support sector we hear again and again of the poor and inadequate responses victims and survivors receive from agencies that are supposed to help. In the West Midlands, we have said enough is enough. These standards will give those agencies the ‘how’ to improve things for all victims of rape and sexual abuse.
“We know we have a lot of work to do but these standards hold the voices of 100 West Midlands victims at their heart and we will honour them and ensure we are successful at providing them with the support they so desperately need.”
Dr Sue Ibbotson, Centre Director Public Health England West Midlands, said: “Sexual violence and abuse blights the lives, health and wellbeing of victims and also wider society. We are committed to working with partners to ensure all those affected by sexual violence and abuse receive understanding, and supportive responses wherever they turn.
“Violence is neither inevitable nor immutable, and prevention is key. This is the work we will continue with partners through the West Midlands Violence Prevention Alliance.”
Nick Page, Chief Executive of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Chair of the West Midlands Preventing Violence Against Vulnerable People Governance Board, added: “The standards outline a clear commitment from all key agencies working across the West Midlands to provide the best possible service to victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse. Through integrated working and collaboration we will continue to enhance our provision, demonstrating our commitment to these standards.”
- For more information or to attend the launch call Elizabeth Joyce or Richard Costello on 0121 626 6060.
- The standards are subscribed to by Birmingham City Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Coventry City Council, Dudley Council, Sandwell Council, Wolverhampton City Council, Walsall Council, West Midlands Police, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, NHS, RSVP, CRASAC, Barnardo’s, Horizon and Public Health England.
- The standards are underpinned by the following principles of understanding sexual violence and abuse: Sexual violence and abuse is widespread throughout every socio-economic group and occurs across all neighbourhoods and communities; It is intentional behaviour and the responsibility for the abuse lies with the abuser; It is most commonly gendered, and is caused by societal attitudes rooted in gender inequality, and the misuse of power and control; Although the vast majority of sexual violence and abuse is perpetrated by men on women and girls, men and boys can be victims of sexual violence and abuse, as can other groups including LGBT; Combating sexual violence and abuse requires a comprehensive and coordinated inter-agency response; Those who have experienced sexual violence and abuse are significantly more likely to experience depression, anxiety, despair, trauma symptoms, self-harm and suicide and be service users of mental health services.
- A table of the yearly figures is below:
|Year||Number of crimes (rape and serious sexual assault) in West Midlands Police area|
|2016 to date||2,624|