Ministry of Justice makes £600,000 available and launches a new sexual abuse support webpage

The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales Dame Vera Baird QC has welcomed the announcement of a funding boost, and a new digital campaign, to support victims of crime.

Today (23 April) the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) pledged £600,000 to support online and helpline services for victims. The money will help five charities bolster their service provision during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The charities are Victim Support, Rape Crisis England and Wales, The Survivors’ Trust, Safeline and The National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).

As well as the funding, the MoJ has also launched an online awareness campaign and a new webpage, which details the support available to victims of sexual violence and abuse, similar to the Gov.uk page on domestic abuse.

Responding, Dame Vera said: “Following the Home Secretary’s clear declaration that domestic abuse charities are still working, the police will respond to calls and perpetrator should stop, here is a powerful equivalent message from the Lord Chancellor about sexual violence.

“The campaign is very clear. Sexual violence may increase during lockdown but help is available. And as the message says: ‘We see you. We hear you. You are not alone’.”

Dame Vera continued: “We are concerned, not only about current victims, but about those whose abuse is not recent but who may nonetheless feel very isolated during lockdown.

“Some people may be partway through psychological treatment, which may have stopped or the impact of limiting their freedom during lockdown maybe making them feel worse. They too are not alone.

“Sexual abuse helplines have had a funding boost today and are now available to everyone who has suffered. Nobody should suffer alone from abuse or its effects,” she said.

Commenting on the new advice page on the Government’s website Dame Vera said: “This is excellent work by the Ministry of Justice, which has worked closely with the leading sexual violence charities and me to establish an information page about sexual abuse during the Covid lockdown.

“This page – and the existing Domestic Abuse advice page – are vital in providing information to those in need,” she said.

“The pandemic has brought the issue of domestic and sexual abuse in to sharp focus. However, these new measures will not only help people during lockdown but will, I hope, have longevity and sustained support after the crisis has ended – because sadly these types of abuse will continue,” she concluded.