‘Now is the time’ for a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Guernsey

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The idea is due to be debated in the States this week, as part of the Justice Review. Credit: PA Images

Two leading victim support charities say it is "essential" that Guernsey establishes a Sexual Assault Referral Centre.

Safer and Guernsey's Victim Support & Witness Service say the centre, known as a SARC, would give better support to sexual assault victims.

Currently, a victim of sexual assault can either go directly to Guernsey Police or to a number of on-island charities.

Hannah Robilliard, Deputy Manager of Victim Support and Witness Service, says "now is the time" for a SARC to be implemented in Guernsey. She expressed how a SARC acts like a "one-stop-shop" where victims can go to access all services in one place. This would include giving forensic evidence which can be kept on file until a time the individual feels ready to go to the police.

Jersey got a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in 2017. Since it opened, Dewberry House has had more than 400 referrals of children and adults seeking support.

Dewberry House receives referrals from Jersey Police and other agencies. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Laura Osmand, Manager of Dewberry House, was pleased to hear that pressure is heating up in Guernsey to also get a SARC. She has seen how valuable Dewberry House has been in supporting members of the community.

In 2019, 137 sexual offences were recorded in Guernsey. In 2018, there were 110.

Victim Support and Witness Service say that last year, 38 victims of sexual offences reached out to them for support. From January to June 2020, 13 victims approached them.

Guernsey's Chief Minister, Gavin St Pier, has spoken about the island's need for better victim support during a speech made in the States of Deliberation on 17 June.

He also shared his personal experience of sexual assault to show islanders it can happen to anyone.

The Justice Review Report, put forward by the Home Affairs Committee is due to be debated in the States of Deliberation this week. Included in the report is the suggestion that a Sexual Assault Referral Centre should be established in Guernsey.