SafeLives welcomes Mayor of London's commitment to supporting victims of sexual assault
We welcome the Mayor of London's recent announcement that £4m will be made available for victims of sexual assault. This additional funding is invaluable and much needed; as clearly stated in the adjoining report by the Mayor of London's office and the NHS - there are clear 'gaps in provision' across the capital for victims.
The report also highlights the key role played by Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (Isvas) which includes "providing practical and emotional support to survivors of sexual violence, regardless of whether they have decided to report to the police or not. Isvas support individuals to understand their options and help them access relevant support services, providing support through the legal process if appropriate".
It warns about the complete absence of Isvas in some boroughs and lack of sufficient provision in others, arguing this is also a 'likely contributor to the high rates of attrition in the criminal justice system'. We welcome the report's findings and recognition of both the impact of Isvas, and the repercussions of victims of abuse not having access to this support.
Our own research has identified significant gaps in provision of Isvas as well as Idvas (Independent Domestic Violence Advisors). For example, only four police forces in England and Wales have sufficient Idva provision to support all victims of domestic abuse at high risk of serious harm and murder.
We train both Isvas and Idvas, because we know their role is invaluable. For a victim of abuse, having access to an advocate is life-changing; a professional that has the skills, training and empathy to fight your corner. It is what you'd want for your best friend. It is what you'd want for yourself.
We will be publishing our national findings on Idva provision very shortly. We welcome the Mayor of London's understanding of the vital role such frontline professionals play, and how we desperately need more of them.