A Purpose Built Sexual Assault Referral Centre Facility in West Yorkshire is Near Completion
Thursday 9 January, 2020
The opening of a fully integrated service for victims of sexual violence and abuse has moved a step closer.
Work on a new specially purpose built Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), facility for West Yorkshire started in late 2018 and will house a number of specialist services.
Latest developments include the work on the self-contained live link suites and the live link recording room as well as waiting rooms.
Once completed, the SARC will house Children and Adult Services under the same roof at the heart of West Yorkshire at the facility within the Leeds District.
The new facility, due to open its doors in Spring of 2020, will incorporate court live-link facilities, vulnerable victims suites for video recorded interviews (VVS/VRI), a hub/base for specialist support services as required and access or referral to Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA), a service uniquely commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner.
These developments are aimed at increasing the number of victims and witnesses giving evidence where appropriate and achieving successful outcomes through the Criminal Justice System wherever possible.
Partners including the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Yorkshire, West Yorkshire Police, the NHS England, Courts Service HMTCS have all been involved in its development.
Mark Burns-Williamson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, said: “Work is now really gathering pace to give the best possible service to vulnerable victims and witnesses with this state-of-the-art purpose built facility.
“As a shared vision between the OPCC, West Yorkshire Police, NHS England and the Courts Service, we want to ensure that we transform and improve the experience of vulnerable victims and witnesses by having all dedicated and accessible services under one roof.
“A key role for me as the PCC is to champion the interests of victims and I am proud of the services I have helped put in place in recent years which substantially improve on what was available before these decisions were devolved to me in 2015/16.
“The opening of the new SARC in 2020 will coincide with the launch of my Victim’s Strategy that puts victims and witnesses at the heart of all that we do, and I have been determined to help deliver this vision and transform SARC services in West Yorkshire.
“We wanted to involve victims and survivors, children, adults, and young people in the development and improvement of services, and have larger dedicated premises with an increased number of specialist facilities which I believe we have managed to do, making what will be one of the best services of its kind in the country.”
West Yorkshire Police, Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson added: “It is encouraging to see the progress being made toward the development of the new Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and what that will mean for both victims and survivors.
“It is now taking shape at real pace and 2020 will mark yet another step forward for victim care and support.
“Once complete, this purpose built facility will offer a fully integrated partnership service, that keeps us at the very forefront of service delivery.”
Head of Health and Justice for NHS England and NHS Improvement in North Julie Dhuny said: “We are pleased that progress is being made with this facility which will ensure that victims of rape and sexual assault in West Yorkshire are cared for in a dedicated facility which will support them to access further help and support.”
A self-contained live link suite showing the newly fitted door leading to the live link recording room
One of the forensic examination rooms
The forensic suite waiting room, each forensic pod contains a waiting room, examination room, shower and toilet along with an aftercare room