Near doubling of funding for local rape crisis centres across Scotland
The Scottish Government has announced an extra £1.85 million is to be invested in providing additional support for victims of sex crimes across Scotland.
The funding represents a near doubling of funding for Scotland's 14 rape crisis centres between 2016 and 2018 and comes in the same week latest recorded crime figures showed that the number of sex crimes in Scotland had increased by 11 per cent in 2014-15.
The funding for Rape Crisis Scotland will also be used to support two additional projects, including the development of new local services in Orkney and Shetland. This will be the first time these specialist services have been delivered on the islands.
The remainder of the funding will go towards advocacy and support workers to support those going through the criminal justice process and used to fund a National Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator to coordinate work with young people on issues of consent and healthy sexual relationships.
The Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, announced the funding during a visit to the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre today.
The Justice Secretary said:
"We are absolutely committed to tackling domestic abuse and sexual offending in Scotland and this £1.85 million funding will help provide important additional support for victims of these terrible crimes.
"Organisations such as Rape Crisis Scotland are doing fantastic work across the country, providing a vital service and giving support and advice for victims of sexual violence.
"We want to do all we can to support them which is why we are today increasing funding for these services by record amounts. Each of the 14 local rape crisis centres are receiving an 80 per cent rise in financial support and the new services in Orkney and Shetland are very important - making sure women all over Scotland are able to access these vital services.
"This is part of a wide range of measures we are putting in place to tackle sexual violence and support its victims. With this new £20m we will ensure better support of victims of violence and sexual assault.
"The number of sexual crimes reported to police rose by 11 per cent last year, with nearly half of that rise linked to an increase in reporting of historic crimes. We are strengthening the law, creating a hostile environment for potential abusers and our next major step will be the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill, providing extra powers against those who commit domestic abuse, harassment and sexual offences, and creating a new offence criminalising the appalling offence known as revenge porn."
Rape Crisis Scotland National Coordinator, Sandy Brindley, said:
"Rape Crisis Scotland is delighted to receive significant additional funding from the Scottish Government to help rape crisis centres across Scotland support survivors who are considering reporting to the police or are going through the police and court process. This funding will enable every rape crisis centre across the country to employ a dedicated support and advocacy worker who will provide much needed support and assistance. The funding will also enable us to work in partnership with women's aid to establish a rape crisis service across Orkney and Shetland."
Manager of Women's Aid Orkney, Sandra Paton, said:
"We welcome the news of government funding for a much-needed Rape Crisis Service for the Orkney islands. Highlighting yet again the Scottish Government's ongoing commitment to addressing all forms of violence against women and girls, this new service will provide specialist support for women and girls whose lives have been affected by sexual violence, and we look forward to working in partnership with Rape Crisis Scotland to help establish this new service."
In March this year, the First Minister announced that an additional £20 million would be invested in a range of measures to tackle all forms of violence against women. The Justice Secretary today announced that £1.85 million of that funding will be given to Rape Crisis Scotland to support their work across Scotland.
The 80 per cent funding increase for local centres will ensure consistent provision across Scotland for victims.
The Rape Crisis Services in Orkney and Shetland will be delivered in partnership with Highland Centre and development of the new service starts in November 2015.
Rape Crisis Scotland is also using the funding to expand its local service into West Lothian.
The £20 million funding over three years is in addition to the £11.8 million to tackle violence against women as part of the Scottish Government's equality budget for 2015-16.
Earlier this month, the First Minister outlined the Scottish Government's commitment to tackling domestic abuse and sexual violence and announced she was bringing forward the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill. The legislation will modernise the law around domestic abuse, provide better protection for victims of harassment and create a new offence of sharing private intimate material to protect victims of so-called 'revenge porn'.
Latest recorded crime figures released earlier this week showed that the number of sexual crimes recorded in Scotland increased by 11 per cent in 2014-15 (9,557) compared to the previous year (8,604). This increase is, in part, attributed to an increase in reporting of sexual crimes, including historic crimes.
Each of the local rape crisis centres below will receive £40,000 each year in 2016 and 2017:
• Argyll & Bute
• Dumfries & Galloway
• East Ayrshire
• Forth Valley
• Scottish Borders
• Western Isles
One survivor who met with the Justice Secretary today has been supported by the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Team (DASAT) in West Lothian since 2011. She said:
"My worker was literally the one person who carried me through the whole process and I honestly don't know how I would have got through it without her help and support.
"From my first meeting with her, she made me feel comfortable. She built up my confidence when I had none. She supported me through my journey and was there for me whenever I needed her. I could ask her questions that I didn't feel comfortable asking the police or anyone else and she would always get me answers and explain them to me in a way that I could understand without jargon.
"There was no such thing as a 'stupid question' to her and she built up a relationship of trust with me which was very difficult as I trusted no one at that time due to the damage he had done to me mentally. My worker really was my rock and the service that she provides is invaluable and definitely needed."