A scheme to help victims of rape in Dundee is to be extended throughout the city.
After a successful pilot scheme, the National Advocacy Project has been given a funding boost.
The project supports victims throughout the criminal justice process and aims to improve reporting of offences and lead to more convictions. Launched by Rape Crisis Scotland in 2016, the Scottish Government has now provided £1.7million for the scheme to be rolled out nationwide.
Sinead Daly, manager of Dundee’s Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, said the charity has been “overwhelmed” with the demand from women seeking assistance — and the funding boost means they can now hire an extra support worker.
She said: “We’ve got an extra worker now who’s going to be starting on April 1 and we’re absolutely delighted with the extension. We’ve supported more than 90 women in Dundee in the last year and that’s without even really advertising or promoting it.
“We’ve really been overwhelmed with the demand. The feedback we’ve had from women is that it’s really helped their experiences and it basically means that we can act as the liaison with the police and keep them updated with what’s happening.”
A report on the investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes criticised the procedures of the Crown Office for being bureaucratic and failing to communicate well enough with alleged victims.
The Tele told last month how a third of reported rapes in Tayside have gone unsolved in the last three years.
More than 40% of rape allegations in Dundee are of a historical nature, higher than the Scottish average.
Sinead said: “Not every victim will want to report something that’s happened to them straight away because it’s so traumatic.
“We’ve had really positive feedback and the worker that has been tasked with the cases has just been so busy — but this will definitely help her and we can support more women in the city.
“It’s quite clear that this is going a long way to helping victims.”
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Sexual assault and rape are horrific crimes which as a society we must do all we can to prevent, while also ensuring a robust response to investigate, detect and bring to justice perpetrators.
The Scottish Government continues to work with partners across public services and the third sector to ensure that victims of rape and other sexual crimes not only receive support, but actually feel supported from the very moment they need it.
“Advocacy services have a key role in helping victims to come forward and engage with the legal process and, through this additional investment, we can strengthen the support available to victims of sexual crime and help secure confidence in the justice system.”