New state-of-the-art sexual assault centre for adults and children to open in West Yorkshire

Work has already started on the new centre which will be located in Sunningdale House in Leeds.
Work has already started on the new centre which will be located in Sunningdale House in Leeds.
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A new sexual assault referral centre (SARC) for both adults and children is to open in Leeds "putting vulnerable victims at the forefront".

Work has already started on the new centre which will be located in Sunningdale House in Leeds.

Richard Young, WYP, Estates, Project Manager, John Prentice, WYP, Assets and Logistics Director, Mark  Burns-Williamson, OPCC, Police and Crime Commissioner, David Smith, OPCC, Victims and Witnesses Service Advisor, Julie Dhuny, NHS England, North of England Head of Health and Justice, Nicola Pringle, WYP, Safeguarding  Delivery Manager, Chris Jewesbury, NHS, Head of Health and Justice Commissioning (Yorkshire & Humber), Michelle Dunderdale, HMCTS, Operations Manager and Julie Myers, HMCTS, Delivery Manager

Richard Young, WYP, Estates, Project Manager, John Prentice, WYP, Assets and Logistics Director, Mark Burns-Williamson, OPCC, Police and Crime Commissioner, David Smith, OPCC, Victims and Witnesses Service Advisor, Julie Dhuny, NHS England, North of England Head of Health and Justice, Nicola Pringle, WYP, Safeguarding Delivery Manager, Chris Jewesbury, NHS, Head of Health and Justice Commissioning (Yorkshire & Humber), Michelle Dunderdale, HMCTS, Operations Manager and Julie Myers, HMCTS, Delivery Manager

The new facility, due to open its doors in Spring of 2020, will incorporate court live-link facilities, vulnerable victims suites for video recorded interviews , a hub/base for specialist support services as required and access or referral to Independent Sexual Violence Advisors.

It is hoped the new service will encourage more victims and witnesses to come forward.

Catherine Hankinson, Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, said: “To have this fully integrated service for victims and witnesses of sexual related abuse in a purpose built facility, is a real coup for West Yorkshire.

“It keeps us at the very forefront of victim care and support, allowing us to forge an ever stronger partnership approach with our colleagues in the Health and Criminal Justice sectors.

“Ultimately, it will deliver an all-round improved experience, utilising the latest in technology, coupled with immediate accessibility to specialists in their field.

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“Its central location and accessibility will undoubtedly be advantageous, helping us to encourage reporting and witness participation, leading to better outcomes at Court.

“Safeguarding issues such as child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, rape, modern day slavery and trafficking all remain high priorities both locally and nationally.

“By working together in this co-ordinated and collaborative manner, we can continue to achieve justice for some of the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire said the new service is a culmination of a shared vision driven by his office, the police, NHS England and the Courts to improve the experience of vulnerable victims.

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He said: “We want to involve victims and survivors, children, adults, and young people in the development and improvement of services, improving healthcare outcomes with better access to justice for everyone, and having larger dedicated premises with an increased number of specialist facilities will fundamentally enhance service delivery and improve the quality of services offered.

"Putting victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do is key and I have been determined to ensure this vision is delivered.”

Head of Health and Justice for NHS England and NHS Improvement in North Julie Dhuny said: “We have worked closely with the Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure men, women and children living in the West Yorkshire area have access to appropriate services, delivered in an environment that this sensitive to the needs of clients during what is often a difficult and traumatic time.

“The new building provides a facility that supports victims of sexual assault to access a full range of services including a new remote video court link that will be situated within the referral centre and help to reduce the stress of giving evidence in court.”