Gloucestershire now has two new Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) working to support victims in the county, following concern that too few rape and serious sexual offences were reaching court.

The Ministry of Justice asked Gloucestershire OPCC to bid for funding to employ the new ISVAs for two years. Gloucestershire was one of only 15 places in the country to be successful, securing £128,588 to fund two roles until 2022.

What are ISVAs?

The advisers provide practical support to the survivors of rape, sexual abuse and sexual assault. They assist victims and survivors before, during and after court appearances; act as a single point of contact; provide emotional support; and give accurate and impartial information.

Maggie Stewart, Director of Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, said: “The Independent Sexual Advisers play a crucial role in support victims who are going through the court process or are thinking of doing so.  We welcome this funding that has enabled us to employ additional members of staff who can provide advocacy and guidance to women, men and children that are affected by sexual violence.

“GRASAC has a good working relationship with Office of the Police Crime Commissioner that has enabled a successful funding bid to the Ministry of Justice and the two year funding will enable stability of provision during a very difficult period for our clients.”

How did this money become available?

The Ministry of Justice made £1million available in September 2019 to fund ISVA roles across the country, tying in with a review of the Criminal Justice System’s response to serious sexual violence and adult rape.

How was the OPCC involved?

Kirsten Fruin, OPCC Commissioning Manager, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have secured this funding for two new Independent Sexual Violence Advisers in Gloucestershire. We worked alongside GRASAC and Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence lead, to ensure our bid really outlined what a huge difference this would make in Gloucestershire.

The two new ISVAs have been in position since May 1 2020.

Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Martin Surl said: “I’m pleased the Ministry of Justice has acknowledged the critical role that ISVAs play in ensuring victims feed informed, supported and engaged as their case goes through the criminal justice system.

“Being one of only 15 places in the country to receive this funding is credit to the hard-working commissioning team in my office, which constantly strives to improve victim services in Gloucestershire.”