Ministry of Justice confirms £4m grant for new rape centres
Four new centres offering support to victims of rape and sexual assault will open across England within the next year, thanks to a £4m government grant.
The centres will be located in Reading, Preston, Lincoln and Taunton, the Ministry of Justice confirmed.
It will bring the total number across England and Wales to 78.
In 2010, the coalition government set a target of establishing up to 15 new rape support centres by 2015. So far, nine have opened.
The £4m funding for 2013/14 is part of a three-year commitment of £11.5m for rape support services across England and Wales.
Announcing the funding, victims minister Helen Grant said: "I want more victims of rape or sexual assault to come forward and get the specialist help they need to recover from these sickening crimes."
Rape Crisis (England and Wales) chairman Lee Eggleston welcomed the move adding that in Lincolnshire, there had previously been a lack of provision.
He said: "It is vital that women and girls who experience sexual violence are able to receive specialised support when and where they need it in order to be able to rebuild and move forward with their lives.
"In Lincolnshire and the four authority areas it will support, there just has not been support available to survivors or, at best, they have had to travel to the next county or metropolitan area, with some journeys taking hours, in order to get the help they need."
Counselling service The Survivors' Trust has been awarded funding to set up the new centres in Preston and Reading.
Chief executive Fay Maxted said: "This is a unique chance to bring crucial support to areas where there has so far been no other specialist support for victims and survivors of rape and sexual abuse.
"The vast majority of victims do not report the offences against them but still suffer the appalling consequences affecting every aspect of their lives."
Nine other new support centres have been set up since 2010 in Northumbria, Leeds, Southend, Suffolk, mid-Wales, Hereford, Devon, Dorset and Trafford.