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13 February 2013
Skills for Justice works closely with a broad range of agencies that provide support to victims of sexual offences, assisting them in providing the best possible service. Most recently, we have been involved in the development of the Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) role which is a relatively new role which supports survivors of sexual violence in the aftermath of their experience. The role is a key component of the Government’s Action Plan to End Violence Against Women and Girls.
The Ministry of Justice, Home Office and Office of National Statistics have come together to publish the first joint overview of sexual offending in England and Wales which collates statistics from a number of sources including the Crime Survey for England and Wales, and police and court records and clearly shows the scale of the problem and the low rate of reported incidents and convictions.
Around one in twenty females (aged 16 to 59) are reported to have been a victim of a most serious sexual offence since the age of 16. This increases to one in five when other sexual offences such as sexual threats, unwanted touching or indecent exposure are included. The report is a reminder that there is still more to do to improve the way that rape and sexual assaults are addressed within the Criminal Justice System.
The report confirms an increase in the number of rapes reported (comparing 2008/9 and 2010/11) which it states is probably a result of greater encouragement by the police for victims to come forward and from improvements made in police recording, rather than from an increase in the level of incidents. It reports that vast numbers of sexual offences still go unreported with the most frequently given reasons from victims being, embarrassment, seeing the offence as a private/family matter or believing that the police could do nothing about it. The report also shows that victims are less likely to report an offence which is not in the ‘most serious’ category and points out, therefore, that existing police records are not a reliable representation of the number of these offences.
Further progress would seem to depend upon victims being able to access support services and on them having confidence in the criminal justice system.
The ISVAs provide a range of services including assessing the needs of the victim, providing access to relevant information and supporting them through the court process and they work with a number of other agencies including the police and health services.
To support ISVAs in providing these services we have developed, National Occupational Standards which describe competence in this essential and important role, courtesy of funding from the Home Office and UKCES. We are now carrying out further work to support the role and wider services to support victims.
Independent Sexual Violence Adviser Laura said “Sexual violence is seriously under-reported and even when people do report, the experience of doing so can feel profoundly daunting and intimidating. ISVAs provide essential practical help and emotional support to survivors and it’s obviously vital that the people doing such sensitive work have the skills and competencies to do so safely and effectively. I hope that the National Occupational Standards will help to demonstrate the professional skills necessary for the ISVA role and support people working as ISVAs in their professional development.”
In 2012 we completed additional standards for supporting children, young people and vulnerable adults who have been the victims of sexual abuse/violence. The standards were developed hand in hand with practitioners through working groups and consultation across the UK, to that the standards are fit for purpose. The standards are currently with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills for approval and should be available from March of this year.
We also host the ISVA e-learning material and we are currently developing a National Competence Assessment Framework which will cover the ISVA role as well as the wider victim support workforce.
If you would like any further information about the work we have done to support the role of Independent Sexual Violence Advisers or our other work in support of survivors of sexual offences please contact Tina Parker, Employer Relationship Manager on 07866582933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the National Competency Assessment Framework please contact Emma Dove on 07827350001 or email email@example.com