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Sunday, 29 March 2015

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Cumbria will get special centre for sex attack victims

A BABY and an 87-year-old woman are among more than 200 Cumbrians who have endured a lengthy journey to Preston for forensic examinations after becoming victims of sex crimes.

New figures reveal for the first time how rape and sexual assault victims have faced additional stress because the county has no specialist forensic examination service.

In the last three years, 215 victims faced a round trip of more than 100 miles so they could be seen at the specialist centre used by Cumbria police.

Some victims were also referred to centres in Manchester and Newcastle.

Cumbria’s police and crime commissioner, Richard Rhodes confirmed that Cumbria will get its own Sexual Assault Referral Centre within a year.

The initiative will end the practice of victims having to leave the county for forensic examination.

It will be the product of months of work by the commissioner, health professionals and experts who work with Cumbrian victims.

Figures reveal that in the last three years, 91 Cumbrian children had forensic examinations at the Preston centre and 124 adults.

Last year, 37 children from the county used the service, the highest level of juvenile referrals in the last three years. In the same year, 40 adults were also examined in Preston.

Reacting to the figures, Mr Rhodes said: “They are shocking and they underline the need to get an appropriate facility operating in Cumbria.

“We need to do something about this and I believe that if we do get the facility in Cumbria we will then see an increase in the reporting of these crimes.

“That’s because one of the reasons people don’t report these crimes is that they know they are faced with the prospect of having to go to Preston.

“Treating victims properly is fundamental. It’s what being police and crime commissioner should be all about.”

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