Improving services for the victims and survivors of sexual assault and abuse

Sexual assault and abuse are serious crimes which continue to have a significant impact on our society. The devastating consequences for any victim can often be misunderstood and neglected.  Despite this, the vast number of victims remain hidden due to a fear of coming forward or a lack of faith in organisations.

To help address this issue and develop improved services for the victims of sexual assault and abuse, work is progressing between a range of partners, which include the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Education, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Police and Crime Commissioners, National Police Chiefs Council, the Care Quality Commission, Local Government Association, NHS providers and commissioners, Public Health England, Directors of Adult Social Services, victims and survivors of sexual assault and abuse and third and charitable sector survivor organisations.

In support of this, the Strategic direction for sexual assault and abuse services has been produced, which sets out what is needed by 2023 to improve service provision and consequently patient experience for those who have experienced sexual assault or abuse.

A key focus of the Strategic direction is considering how pathways of care need to change to ensure those who have experienced sexual assault and abuse have appropriate and timely access to services throughout their lifetime.  It also outlines how services need to evolve to ensure that as much as possible can be done to safeguard individuals and to support them at times of crisis and in particular, at the point of disclosure.  Underpinning this are six core priorities, which are:

  • Strengthening the approach to prevention
  • Promoting safeguarding and the safety, protection and welfare of victims and survivors
  • Involving victims and survivors in the development and improvement of services
  • Introducing consistent quality standards
  • Driving collaboration and reducing fragmentation
  • Ensuring an appropriately trained workforce.

The Strategic direction has been informed by an extensive period of engagement with providers, commissioners, victims, survivors, and in some cases their families and carers, as well as the extensive evidence base.

These findings, along with support from partner organisations and the victims and survivors of sexual assault and abuse, have informed the co-development of the Strategic direction, which provides a framework of guidance to deliver improved services now and in years to come.