New Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) building a better service (4 Nov 2019)

Victims of sexual violence and abuse will soon be able to access a fully integrated service for the first time in a specially purpose built facility for West Yorkshire.

Work has now started on creating the new Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), which will house Children and Adult Services under the same roof at the heart of West Yorkshire at Sunningdale House in Leeds.

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 commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

These developments are aimed at increasing the number of victims and witnesses giving evidence and achieving successful outcomes through the Criminal Justice System.

Partners including the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner 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, (PCC), said:

"This is the culmination of a shared vision I have driven between the OPCC, West Yorkshire Police, NHS England and the Courts Service to help transform and improve the experience of vulnerable victims and witnesses by having all services under one roof.

"We want to involve victims and survivors, children, adults, and young people in the development and improvement of services, improving healthcare outcomes with better access to justice for everyone, and having larger dedicated premises with an increased number of specialist facilities will fundamentally enhance service delivery and improve the quality of services offered.

"Sexual Abuse, Child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSA/E), Modern Day Slavery/ Human Trafficking and Domestic Abuse are four of the sixteen priorities within my (PCC) Police and Crime Plan that the new SARC facility will provide transformed services for. Putting victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do is key and I have been determined to ensure this vision is delivered."

West Yorkshire Police, Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson added:

"To have this fully integrated service for victims and witnesses of sexual related abuse in a purpose built facility, is a real coup for West Yorkshire.

"It keeps us at the very forefront of victim care and support, allowing us to forge an ever stronger partnership approach with our colleagues in the Health and Criminal Justice sectors.

"Ultimately, it will deliver an all-round improved experience, utilising the latest in technology, coupled with immediate accessibility to specialists in their field.

"Its central location and accessibility will undoubtedly be advantageous, helping us to encourage reporting and witness participation, leading to better outcomes at Court.

"Safeguarding issues such as child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, rape, modern day slavery and trafficking all remain high priorities both locally and nationally.

"By working together in this co-ordinated and collaborative manner, we can continue to achieve justice for some of the most vulnerable in our communities." Head of Health and Justice for NHS England and NHS Improvement in North Julie Dhuny said: "We have worked closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure men, women and children living in the West Yorkshire area have access to appropriate services, delivered in an environment that this sensitive to the needs of clients during what is often a difficult and traumatic time.

"The new building provides a facility that supports victims of sexual assault to access a full range of services including a new remote video court link that will be situated within the referral centre and help to reduce the stress of giving evidence in court."

Mark Swales, HMCTS Delivery Director for the North East said: "The court experience can understandably be daunting and so facilities like this - using new technology such as live video links - will provide a better service for victims and witnesses so they can get the specialist support they need to give their best possible evidence at what is often a difficult time."

Pic One - SARC Visit 28 OCT 19 (12)

Pictured from left to right - Richard Young, WYP, Estates, Project Manager, John Prentice, WYP, Assets and Logistics Director, Mark Burns-Williamson, OPCC, Police and Crime Commissioner, David Smith, OPCC, Victims and Witnesses Service Advisor, Julie Dhuny, NHS England, North of England Head of Health and Justice, Nicola Pringle, WYP, Safeguarding Delivery Manager, Chris Jewesbury, NHS, Head of Health and Justice Commissioning (Yorkshire & Humber), Michelle Dunderdale, HMCTS, Operations Manager and Julie Myers, HMCTS, Delivery Manager

Pic Three - SARC Visit 28 OCT 19 (1)

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019