RAPE centres set up to help Wearside victims could benefit from a huge cash injection.
The Government has pledged to provide £10million to boost centres across the UK providing support to victims of rape over the next three years.
It is hoped that Sunderland’s pioneering Reach (Rape, Examination, Advice, Counselling and Help) centre at the Children’s Centre in Durham Road, will be among those to benefit from the funding, although no final decision has been made.
Detective Chief Inspector Michael Barton said: “Northumbria Police is dedicated to supporting victims of rape and other sexual offences.
“We have three Sexual Assault Referral Centres in the force area which provide a range of specialist services designed to support both children and adult victims of rape and sexual assault.
“All three centres have recently been refitted and offer medical examination facilities in a confidential and unthreatening environment.
“We welcome the Government’s continued commitment to funding services which provide vital support for victims of rape and sexual offences.”
When pledging the cash, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said the centres provide vital services and added the money would help to support more victims of crime.
He said: “It’s important we give steadily more expert support to the victims of crime and don’t just treat them as witnesses.”
He added that it is vital that the government makes sure “they get the help they need to come to terms with the consequences of a violent sexual attack or injury they may have suffered”.
Home Secretary Theresa May backed the move, adding that she felt long-term funding for rape crisis centres was “a key element of the Government’s wider strategy to tackle violence against women and girls”.
Sunderland’s Ellis Fraser suite relocated from its former home at Sunderland Royal Hospital in October.
As well as being equipped with top-class facilities to help catch those responsible for serious sex crimes, including a fully-equipped forensic unit, it also provides a calm and professional environment.
When the Reach centre first opened its doors in 1991, it was only the second unit of its type in the country.
For more information, advice or to make an appointment, phone 221 9222 from 9am to 5pm or visit www.reachcentres.co.uk