More Help Needed For Sex Assault Victims

15 February 2012, 05:00

Heart's found out 1,300 people have signed an online petition for more centres to help sexual assault victims.

At the moment the only Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) in the area covered by Thames Valley Police are in Slough and Milton Keynes - which campaigners say is too far for people in West Berkshire and Oxfordshire to travel.

They're trying to get 100-thousand signatures on the Governments e-petition website - which means the subject could be debated by MPs in Parliament.

As well as petitioning for the centre in Reading, campaigners want a SARC in every town in the country with a population over 120,000.

The centres are described as "one stop shops" were victims can go for advice and forensic examination. They don't have to report what has happened to them to the police if they don't want to.

Campaigners have already set up a Facebook page calling for a SARC in Reading. So far it's gathered more than 2,200 members.

They've now told Heart, ideally, every Thames Valley town should have one of the centres, in order to offer enough care and support.

Campaigner Hari Sewell from Reading told Heart it would save authorities money in the long run:

"Apart from the moral and ethic basis for this, there's an economic one. We are likely to prevent many people from ending up in mental health services. The cost of an in-patient stay, or the cost of maintaining people on drug therapies is extremely high."

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said:

"Thames Valley Police is aware of campaigners who wish to open SARCs in other areas of the Thames Valley. At present, there are two centres in the area and Thames Valley Police does not have plans to open any more.”