This week is the first national Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness week and organisations around the country are uniting behind the simple message to offenders: #ItsNotOK.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson and Superintendent Adrian Burt, Wiltshire Police’s Head of Criminal Justice and Crime Standards, were in Swindon on Tuesday 2 February to show their support for the campaign.
They visited the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) to highlight the important work carried out there and encourage those affected by sex offences to speak out.
Mr Macpherson said: “I’m proud to be supporting this very worthwhile campaign which is aimed at getting across the message that sexual violence and abuse are totally unacceptable.
“One of the priorities I have set for Wiltshire Police is to put victims of crime at the heart of everything they do.
“We know from analysis of crime figures that victims are gaining the confidence to step forward and report such offences to police.
“People in Wiltshire and Swindon can be confident that they will be treated with dignity, care and compassion by the brilliant team who work at the Sexual Assault Referral Centre.
“I am proud that funding by my office contributes towards the services offered at the Sanctuary.”
Recorded sex offences increased in Wiltshire by 40.5 per cent in the year from October 2014 to September 2015 compared to the previous 12-month period.
This represents an increase of 363 recorded offences. Wiltshire is in line with its most similar forces which saw a 39.2 per cent rise. Across England and Wales, all forces reported an increase in sex offences. The national increase is 36.6 per cent.
Superintendent Burt explains: “What we’re seeing is a combination of improvements to the way these offences are recorded alongside a greater level of confidence by those reporting their experiences to us. Both of these things help us as we seek to bring offenders to justice.
“Wiltshire Police takes reports of sexual abuse and sexual violence seriously. We want the perpetrators of this sort of crime to know that it’s not ok and will not be tolerated.
“More importantly though is the way we treat the people affected by these crimes. We want them to come forward and speak to us about what has happened to them; safe in the knowledge that they will be treated sensitively by our officers.
“As well as our own highly skilled detectives to investigate sexual offences, we’re also fortunate in Wiltshire to have first class facilities and dedicated professionals such as those at the SARC and they’re available irrespective of whether the individuals concerned want police involvement or not.”
Jools James-Kempshall heads up the team of professionals at the SARC which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary. She said: “We work closely with Wiltshire Police and health partners to provide the best possible service, around the clock, to people of all ages and backgrounds who experience sexual violence or abuse.
“We’re delighted to support the national campaign as we want to put the message out that it’s not ok for people to commit these crimes and it’s not ok to suffer in silence if it’s happened to you.
“Anyone who comes through our doors will be treated with the utmost respect and given the support they deserve.
“Our centre comprises a team of experts with a wealth of knowledge and experience in advising, supporting and treating people who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
“We offer a range of services from access to counselling and independent sexual violence advisors to medical aspects. We also make onward referrals for Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screening and assess for vulnerabilities throughout our contact with the client.
“We have a 24 hour advice and information line on 0808 168 0024 which can also be used to book an appointment to visit us”.