New setback for plans to create ‘one-stop shop’ sexual assault centre in West Yorkshire

Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd of West Yorkshire Police
Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd of West Yorkshire Police
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A dedicated centre providing support for rape victims in West Yorkshire is now unlikely to be in place by April due to a lack of interest from organisations who could run the service.

The Yorkshire Post revealed in March that a ‘one-stop shop’ Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) had not been opened in West Yorkshire four years after a landmark report identified it as vital in tackling the crime.

West Yorkshire Police have previously said that a new provider would be in place by April 1, but this is now unlikely after no bidders put themselves forward to run a Yorkshire-wide service when it was put out to tender.

Police and crime commissioners for the region’s four forces put Sexual Assault Referral Centres services out to tender in August with the aim of appointing a single provider across Yorkshire.

But it was announced this month that the tender closed in October with a single tender having been received, and that bidder later withdrew.

As the tender process will not be re-started until 2015, there is unlikely to be a new provider in place by the time responsibility for commissioning is handed over to NHS England on April 1.

In West Yorkshire an ‘interim’ forensic medical examination centre run by police and outsourcing firm Serco lacks the support services offered by the ‘one-stop shop’ SARC sites in most other police force areas.

Plans to commission a dedicated service had already been delayed, meaning bosses had to pay Serco a further £77,000 to continue running it. But an internal document from earlier this year, seen by The Yorkshire Post, said: “The procurement process will be completed in time for a new provider to deliver SARC services from 1st April 2015.”

West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Dodd said: “We can say that our current arrangements provide a good quality of care for victims but we want to do better. We remain confident that a single collocated unit, staffed by multi-disciplinary professionals, will be developed and available soon that will build on the high standards of care we already provide.”