Sexual violence is a crime of a sexual nature which takes place without consent or understanding. It is an abhorrent crime which can have a long-lasting impact on its survivors – effecting their health and wellbeing. As Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, I am responsible for the totality of policing in Cheshire and I am elected to represent everyone in the county.
My main role is to ensure the people of Cheshire have an efficient and effective police service and I do this by holding the Chief Constable to account, setting the police budget and commissioning services for victims of crime, including specialist services for survivors of sexual violence.
Committed to tackling violence against women and girls
In recent months, sexual violence and the issue of street safety of females has been high on the news agenda with a number of high-profile attacks taking place across the country.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw a sharp increase in domestic abuse cases across Cheshire, which can often be inherently linked to sexual violence crimes.
It should also be noted that while sexual violence and domestic abuse disproportionately effect women, men can also be victim of both crimes and I believe we need to do more to raise awareness of this ‘hidden’ crime amongst males.
Cheshire’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre
In Cheshire, I commission the Rape And Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) to provide aftercare services for survivors of sexual violence across Cheshire. It offers support to anyone who lives in the county, irrespective of their gender or any other personal characteristic.
RASASC supports people who have experienced any form of sexual violence, including rape, child sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
It provides specialist counselling, an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor Service (ISVAs), an information line, drop-in services and support groups from community-based locations across Cheshire.
The team at RASASC provide local support from easily accessible centres across the county and work closely with Cheshire Police to not only help survivors of sexual violence recover from the ordeal but also offer support throughout the criminal justice process.
“I was referred to RASASC by a police officer after reporting incidents of rape, assault and coercive behaviour by an ex-partner. They contacted me within 24 hours and completed an assessment of my case.
They supported me through counselling, helped me relocate away from the perpetrator and also supported me to give evidence at his trial, which led to a conviction. Their support has also given me the confidence and inspired me to enrol on a counselling diploma course and volunteer locally.”
Cheshire’s Harm Reduction Unit
Whilst it’s vitally important that we give survivors the right support to help them recover, it’s also imperative that we look at preventing these crimes from happening in the first place. I’m committed to working with the Chief Constable to reduce reoffending and stop more innocent people becoming victim to these crimes.
In Cheshire we have a ground-breaking Harm Reduction Unit where police officers, victim advocates and healthcare professionals work with both victims and offenders of violent crimes to understand individual enable offenders’ motivations and circumstances, to better manage the risks they pose and, in some cases, stop the behaviour for good.
Whilst the criminal justice system can offer substantial prison sentences for perpetrators of violent crime, it does very little to address the underlying motivations which fuel the behaviour.
The Unit uses a range of interventions to manage the risks posed by perpetrators of sexual violence, whilst protecting survivors. This revolutionary model brings police officers and partners from the health service together to find the most suitable resolution for both the perpetrator and the survivor.
It is a proven model which has been trialled in cases of stalking and harassment with just three of the 56 stalking perpetrators worked with during a two-year period going on to reoffend.
Send your feedback to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire
Although I am confident that the support we currently have in place is extremely effective, during my term of office, I will be working with the Cheshire Police and our key partners to constantly review the support we offer to both survivors and perpetrators to ensure it is fit-for-purpose and offers the best opportunity for recovery and reduction of reoffending.
I would also welcome your feedback on the sexual violence support services we provide in Cheshire. You can contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01606 364000.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire
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This website was developed in collaboration with North West Police Crime Commissioners, NHS England, and Sexual Assault & Abuse Services.
The North West SAAS Partner Network (Strategic Direction for Sexual Assault and Abuse Services) is led by NHS England and covers Cheshire, Merseyside, Cumbria, Greater Manchester and Lancashire.