The Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire has partnered with Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and other PCCs from across the East Midlands to launch a new specialist hub in the county that will support young victims of sexual violence and assault.

The new referral centre, provided by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, will operate from the Serenity Centre, Highfield Clinical Care Centre on Cliftonville Road, Northampton, and is one of two in the East Midlands – the other operating from Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham.

Both hubs will be staffed by specialist forensic medical examiners and paediatricians who have high levels of expertise and are experienced in treating children and young people who have been subjected to sexual assault. Together with crisis workers, a young person and their carers will receive an excellent standard of care and support.

In Northamptonshire, on-going support throughout the Criminal Justice Process will be provide by Children and Young People’s Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (CYP ISVAs) and specialist support workers at the Serenity Centre, who provide continuing emotional support, practical help and advocacy to young people and their families.

Part of a £2million-per-year project, the hubs – known as Children and Young People’s Sexual Assault Referral Centres – have been created to provide highly specialised support for under 18s, and to increase partnership working between blue light services. Clinicians at the centres will provide the medical care that victims of crime need at the same time as collecting forensic evidence which may be used in a prosecution.

Each centre will be open 24 hours-per-day, 365 days-a-year to support under 18s who have been, or are suspected of having been, subjected to crimes of a sexual nature. Centres will receive referrals from police, social workers and other key stakeholders.

The partnership with NHS England builds on the previous co-operation between the PCCs Office, Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, who have supported victims of sexual assault of all ages at the Serenity Sexual Assault Referral Centre. This work will continue alongside the new, specialist service for young people.

Stephen Mold, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, said:

“This is a vitally important service which will support some of the most vulnerable people in the county who have been the victims of horrific crimes, and who need our help and care. At the same time as providing specialist support, this new service will allow the police to collect valuable evidence to ensure the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice.

“My Police and Crime Plan is centred around supporting vulnerable people and victims of crime, and increasing partnership working to ensure that public services operate in the most efficient and effective way possible. This arrangement is a fantastic example of the positive work that can be done when we work together.

“I am committed to supporting victims of crime to ensure they are able to cope, recover and thrive following their experiences, and I’m delighted to be able to work with Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and other PCCs in the region to fund this valuable service.”

Referrals to the East Midlands Children and Young People’s Sexual Assault Service can be made to the 24-hour single point of access, on 0800 183 0023. The service provides a 24-hour confidential helpline for the East Midlands. This is a channel to get the right help for children and young people at the right time.

Detective Chief Inspector Lorraine Gordon from Northamptonshire Police said:

“We welcome the introduction of this extremely valuable service, which will complement the excellent service already provided by Serenity.

“We encourage anyone who has been the victim of rape or sexual assault to report it, whether to the police or other agency and regardless of whether it happened recently or several years ago.

“It is vital that young victims of sexual crime have someone they can turn to for help and this new specialist service for children and young people will provide a safe, supportive place for them to get the help and support they need.”