Mayor to quadruple Rape Crisis services in London

8 March 2010

Three new Rape Crisis Centres will open in London this year, following the Mayor's pledge to quadruple Rape Crisis provision in the capital.  The first will open in Ealing next month followed later in the year by new services in the north and east.

When elected, Mayor Boris Johnson pledged to open three new centres and provide extra funding for the capital's only existing service in Croydon.  By working together with London’s boroughs he has now delivered on this commitment and reversed a downward trend in women’s services, which saw two centres close under the previous administration.

Islington and Westminster councils have taken the lead to deliver new Rape Crisis services in north London using £370,000 of funding from the Mayor. With the full support of four other north London councils they plan to run Rape Crisis services in each borough with the work centrally co-ordinated by an existing women’s service provider. This means that women in north London will not have to travel across boroughs but can access services locally.

A similar plan is underway in east London where Redbridge is leading work to deliver a new Rape Crisis Centre for the area with £370,000 of funding from the Mayor.

The new Rape Crisis Centre for west London, run by the Women and Girl’s Network, will start operating on April 1.  With £375,000 funding from the Mayor along with resources and additional funding from Ealing Council, the centre hopes to run satellite services across West London.

Since receiving £260,000 from the Mayor last year the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) in Croydon has doubled the capacity of its helpline and increased by 30 per cent the level of face to face counselling it can now provide to victims of rape and sexual abuse.

Speaking at an event to mark International Women's Day the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

“With the Ealing Rape Crisis Centre ready to spring into action next month and new services in north and east London up and running by the end of the year, women in the capital will at last get the services they need and deserve.

“By taking the time to get this right and working closely with London’s boroughs, we are cementing the future of these centres for years to come and reversing the appalling neglect of Rape Crisis services in London.”      

 Baroness Royall, Leader of the House of Lords said:
"Violence against women and girls causes serious harm and has a devastating impact.  It is unacceptable that a range of forms of violence, from domestic and sexual violence to trafficking and harassment, are experienced by many women and girls in London. Last year Government published its strategy ‘Together we can end violence against women and girls’ which includes a range of actions for the police, councils, the NHS and government departments across three areas: prevention, provision and protection.  This is an issue which transcends political differences: we all have a responsibility to end violence against women and girls."

Rif Sharif at the Women and Girls Network chosen to run the new Ealing Rape Crisis Centre said: “We acknowledge the important step made by the Greater London Authority, Ealing Council and Rape Crisis (England and Wales) in meeting the Mayor’s pledge to increase Rape Crisis provision in London. WGN has 22 years experience in providing specialist, quality services aimed at empowering women to recover from the devastating effects of sexual violence. The new west London Rape Crisis provision will ensure that hundreds of women will be able to access support that was not previously available. Sadly we know that, because of the incidence of violence against women, this will still not be enough to meet existing need. We hope that there will be continued political commitment to funding specialist services for women who have experienced violence and that legislation and social policy aimed at making all forms of violence against women socially unacceptable are prioritised, so achieving the end of violence against women.”

Cllr Barbara Smith, Executive Member for Community Safety, Islington Council said: 

"Islington welcomes its role as joint lead on the delivery of services for Rape Crisis in North London.  We are very aware of the trust that has been placed in us in this sensitive area.
"The new service means women in Islington and across neighbouring boroughs will now have access to local, specialist services at the time when they most need them."

"Islington welcomes its role as joint lead on the delivery of services for Rape Crisis in North London.  We are very aware of the trust that has been placed in us in this sensitive area.

"The new service means women in Islington and across neighbouring boroughs will now have access to local, specialist services at the time when they most need them."

Cllr Keith Prince, Leader of Redbridge Council, said; Redbridge is proud to be leading a partnership of the GLA and Neighbouring East London Councils in the provision of a new Crisis Centre that will support the victims of rape and sexual abuse." 

Westminster City Council leader, Cllr Colin Barrow, said: "It is impossible to express in words how fundamentally important the rape crisis service is. We are committed to playing a leading role in this innovative scheme which I hope will help give those affected the strength and courage to rebuild their lives and, where possible, bring the perpetrators to justice."             

Ends

Notes to editor

The Mayor was speaking at the “Working together to end violence against women and girls’ event at Glaziers Hall, London. Baroness Royall, Leader of the House of Lords, also attended the event.

 Increasing access to services, such as Rape Crisis support, is a key part of the Mayor’s Violence Against Women Strategy ‘The Way Forward’ the final version of which has been published today.  This can be found, along with an action plan for delivery of the strategy at www.london.gov.uk

In his manifesto, the Mayor committed to expanding Rape Crisis provision in London by funding three new centres as well as the only remaining centre, the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) in Croydon. The Mayor has pledged £1.4m to increase Rape Crisis provision in London over the next three years.  The aim is to have a Rape Crisis service in north, south, east and west London.

The Mayor has allocated £370K to establish Rape Crisis provision in the north and is working with a north London partnership to achieve this.  The partnership is jointly led by Islington and Westminster Councils.  The other boroughs in the partnership are Camden, Enfield, Barnet, Kensington & Chelsea.  Services will be delivered through an existing third sector specialist violence against women service provider using an innovative "hub and spoke" model involving outreach and satellite services being provided across all seven boroughs.

A similar approach is being developed in the east where Redbridge is leading an east London partnership to open a rape crisis service with £370,000 of funding from the Mayor.  Other boroughs in the partnership are Barking & Dagenham, Newham, Havering, Hackney and Waltham Forest.

The Mayor reached an agreement with Ealing Council last July to establish a new Rape Crisis Centre for west London.  The Mayor has allocated £375,000 to Ealing Council over the next two years. A specialist organisation known as Women and Girls network are about to sign the contract to deliver the service from the 1st April.  The service will initially be delivered from Women and Girls network existing premises based in Shepherds Bush.  As soon as a suitable location has been identified the service will move to a central Ealing location. 

The Mayor is working with Croydon Council to fund the South London Rape Crisis Centre, the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC).  The funding received by RASASC has already enabled them to double the capacity of their sexual violence helpline, increase their opening hours by 16%, increase the number of workers on the helpline by 60% and increase their face to face counselling service by 30%

The Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre Freephone Helpline is 0808 802 9999. This line is open from 12 – 2.30 and 7 – 9.30pm every Day of the Year

The inaugural meeting of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Panel took place at City Hall on Wednesday January 20.  The formation of the panel was a key commitment in the Mayor’s strategy to end violence against women and girls in London, ‘The Way Forward’.  Chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Policing Kit Malthouse, the panel will advise the Mayor on the actions required to end violence against women and girls in the capital and improve co-ordination of agencies, statutory and non-statutory bodies working in this area.

The Way Forward and action plan focus on the vast majority of victims of gender-based violence (i.e. women), but it is important to recognise that men and boys are also victims of violence.  This strategy therefore, will sit alongside existing policies and procedures that provide protection and legal redress for all victims of crime. 

London also has three Sexual Assault Referral Centres known as The Havens providing high quality victim care and medical services to anyone who has been raped in the last 12 months.  Rape Crisis Centres provide long-term support and counselling to recent and historic incidents of rape including childhood sexual abuse.   The Mayor recognises that the only way to meet the needs of survivors is to offer both forms of service provision.

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