Cornwall sex assault victims get more help

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A new centre aimed at encouraging more victims to report sex crimes has opened in Cornwall.

The Willow Centre will provide medical care, examinations, health advice and emotional support to men and women.

The centre at Truro Health Park is run by Victim Support and backed by police, NHS and the Women's Rape Centre.

The number of rapes and serious sexual offences reported to Devon and Cornwall Police rose from about 400 in 2008 to 550 by the end of 2010.

'Taking care'

Sharon Minty, manager of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), said: "In the past, victims have too often felt criminalised by the process of being assessed and counselled in a police managed building.

"By moving all services to an NHS setting we are showing this is about taking care of every aspect of their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing."

A new dedicated team of sexual offending liaison officers from Devon and Cornwall Police will gather evidence without putting the victim under pressure for an immediate prosecution.

All evidence will be stored, which can then be used for a prosecution.

The Home Office provided £75,000 for refurbishing the SARC which has been provided by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust.

The Truro SARC is the first in Cornwall, but there are others in Plymouth and Exeter.

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