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Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 13:38 GMT
'Chronic shortage' of rape help
Distressed woman
More support is needed in Wales for victims of rape
The Home Office is examining how to give more support for people in Wales who have been raped or sexually abused after a "chronic shortage" of help.

Currently there is only one specialist centre in Wales providing support, compared with a dozen in England.

Campaigners have said vulnerable people are not getting the service they need and that some areas of Wales have "virtually no provision".

Experts believe under investment over the last 20 years is to blame.

One victim of sexual abuse told the BBC Wales Eye on Wales programme how she struggled to find the support she needed following her assault.

Victims want someone to talk to in the middle of the night or when they are alone

"The police actually put me in touch with Victim Support and I spoke to a counsellor from Victim Support - that was ok but it wasn't enough help," said Sandra, who did not want to reveal her last name.

"I feel there is not enough help out there... I rang several places and asked for help and I was told that yes they could see me in a fortnight or yes they could see me next week but when you're asking for help you need it then.

"Victims want someone to talk to in the middle of the night or when they are alone, when they start thinking about what's happened to them."

Sandra's experience is not uncommon according to a leading expert on sexual violence Professor Liz Kelly of London Metropolitan University.

"The provision around sexual assault in Wales currently is not good primarily because there's been a lack of investment in it for two decades," she explained.

"So we have whole areas of the country where actually there is virtually no provision and Wales is very poorly served currently."

More help

In England, there are a dozen Sexual Assault Referral Centres (Sarcs) compared with just one in Wales, based in Merthyr Tydfil.

Leanne Wood, the Plaid Cymru shadow social justice minister for the Welsh Assembly Government said: "There is a chronic shortage of provision which we just simply have to address."

The Home Office Minister, Paul Goggins said that he was hopeful that another two Sarcs will be set up in Wales but added that funding for the centres would not come from central government.

"The core funding they need has to come from the local funders of health and police services," he said.

"That's the key - there is no way we can sustain the funding of a whole network of Sarcs across England and Wales - nor would that be correct, these have to be locally-funded."

Eye on Wales will be aired on BBC Radio Wales after the six o'clock news on Monday.



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