West Yorkshire support centre for rape victims is still months away

Mark Burns-Williamson

Mark Burns-Williamson

0
Have your say

THE long-awaited introduction of a key support centre for rape victims in West Yorkshire will not happen until April after being hit by further delays.

It was revealed in March that a dedicated Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) had still not opened in the county four years after a landmark report identified the facility as a vital tool in tackling the crime.

An ‘interim’ medical examination centre run by West Yorkshire Police and outsourcing firm Serco since 2012 lacks support services offered by the ‘one-stop shop’ SARC sites based in virtually every other police force area in the country.

Bosses have tried to bring in a permanent arrangement with services all under one roof, but the force says “the procurement process has not progressed as quickly as anticipated”.

A new provider is promised when the NHS takes over as lead commissioner on April 1, but in the meantime Serco will be paid £77,000 to extend its contract for a further two months.

The current contract provided by Serco, funded 50/50 by West Yorkshire Police and NHS England, had been due to end on January 31 on the basis that a permanent service would be introduced on February 1.

A tender process last year to create a dedicated SARC service was abandoned in favour of a single provider for all four Yorkshire police forces.

West Yorkshire’s police commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “There is a professional support network in place to support victims of rape and other serious sexual offences across [West Yorkshire] and detailed work is being done to identify and ensure a consistency of service provision going forward...The services that a SARC facility would contain under one roof are currently in different places, yet working closely together to ensure victims get the best possible care.”

Heavy downpours on Saturday caused localised flooding in parts of Yorkshire.

Bank Holiday weather: More thunderstorms could strike Yorkshire