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PCC reaches out further with nearly half a million pounds of support for victims of sexual violence on the Isle of Wight

03 October 2023

The Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones, has announced the start of a new contract supporting adults, children and young people who are victims of rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse on the Isle of Wight.

The PCC has committed up to £474,130 of funding for a single all-age Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service that began on 1 October 2023 and continues to 31 March 2029.

It provides specialist emotional and practical support to victims and survivors of sexual violence irrespective of whether they have reported to the police or not.

Targeted provision varies depending on individual cases and circumstances with benefits including advocacy, impartial advice, information on other services such as health and social care, housing or benefits as well as support if reporting to the police from the initial stage, right through the criminal justice process and beyond.

It also supports children and young people who are victims of child abuse and exploitation, by working alongside communities and within schools to raise awareness of the support that is available.

PCC Donna Jones said: “When a crime is committed, it’s essential that victims receive the right support at the right time, irrespective of when the offence happened or when they feel ready to address the trauma they have experienced.

“I’m committed to standing up for victims of sexual violence, making sure their voices are heard, that their needs are at the heart of policing and criminal justice, and ensuring they have the right level of complete wraparound support.”

The Commissioner had funded, in partnership with Isle of Wight Council, the Integrated Domestic Abuse and Sexual Crime service on the Island which began on 1 October 2018 and ended on 30 September 2023.

The ISVA service was part of this provision, but is now a new stand-alone contract funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

PCC Donna Jones added: “Sexual violence, in all its despicable forms, is completely harrowing so I’m making sure that exceptional support is always at hand, and this new contract continues to provide the much-needed haven for victims and survivors of sexual violence on the Isle of Wight.”

The new contract was awarded to Hampton Trust, the current providers. The Trust’s IOW ISVA Service Manager is Deborah Gearing: “Over the last 12 years, we have worked extremely hard to build a well-established service and we will continue to provide and deliver this vital and valuable provision, ensuring all survivors of sexual abuse receive the appropriate support they deserve.

“Our team of specially trained ISVAs are extremely passionate, and are dedicated to making a difference to people’s lives giving them the opportunity for their voices to be heard.”
The PCC continues to contribute funding for Domestic Abuse provision on the Island, while this new PCC-funded stand-alone contract for the ISVA Service from October 2023 to March 2029 ensures the stability of provision for adults, children and young people on the Isle of Wight who have been victims of sexual violence.

It also acknowledges that an ISVA may support a victim for a number of years as cases progress through the criminal justice system.

Superintendent Rob Mitchell, Isle of Wight Area Commander, said: “Rape and serious sexual offences are particularly traumatic for those affected, and I’m pleased that additional funding has been awarded to support some of our most vulnerable victims of crime.

“ISVA services provide an additional layer of independent support for victims at a very difficult time in their lives when they might not feel able to talk to police.”

In 2022, the Police and Crime Commissioner, in partnership with Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton Councils, commissioned the single Hampshire-wide ISVA Service with the contract running from April 2022 to March 2029.

This new IOW ISVA Service contract also ends in March 2029, bringing it in line with its Hampshire counterpart.

The Victims and Prisoners Bill was introduced in March this year, with the government committing to increasing the number of ISVAs and IDVAs (Independent Domestic Violence Advisors) by 43% over the next three years.