Savera UK to deliver brand new service for victims of “hidden” harmful practices across Merseyside
Image: Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy participates in a Savera UK engagement event in Calderstones School
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy has commissioned Merseyside-based charity Savera UK to deliver a new support service for those subject to “hidden” harmful practices - female genital mutilation/cutting, forced marriage, honour-based abuse/violence and emerging harmful practices.
In early 2017, the Commissioner took the decision to undertake a full review of the existing Victim Care Merseyside and assess if any new services were needed to make sure vulnerable victims of crime were receiving the best possible care. Between May and October last year, a detailed Victim Needs Assessment was carried out by the Commissioner’s team.
In light of the findings, the Commissioner announced her plans to further improve and expand upon the existing package of care and support over the next three years, creating four new specialist support services for victims of some of the “most damaging crimes”.
“I am determined to provide the right support services for the most vulnerable victims through the Victim Care Merseyside service. Such practices have a profound impact upon victims, but in many cases, and often for complex reasons, this type of victimisation remains ‘hidden’. “Responding to cases of harmful practices requires great sensitivity and a high level of specialist support. We know that there may only be one chance, one window of opportunity, to speak to, and even save, a potential victim. “That means we need to get it right. If we don’t, a victim or potential victim, may walk out the door and, in the very worst cases, may never be seen again. I am delighted to be working with Savera UK to deliver this new service supporting victims and increasing awareness of these crimes.”Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy
The strategic and operational direction for this service will be provided via the Merseyside Harmful Practices Steering Group, and Savera UK will form an essential element of that group.
The term Harmful Practice refers to forms of violence committed primarily against women and girls in certain communities and societies where it is accepted as cultural practice (National Gender Based Violence & Health Programme, 2017). The most common forms of harmful practice are honour based abuse/violence (HBA/V), female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) and forced marriage. The OPCC’s evidence review suggests that this is a growing area of victimisation in Merseyside, and that it has significant psychological impact upon victims of such practices. It is estimated that only 5% of such crimes are reported to the police.
Current statistics on the number of victims of Harmful Practices demonstrate a significant level of underreporting. Whilst it is a difficult issue to examine, it is evident that this type of victimisation is happening. By raising awareness of Harmful Practices, it is hoped that those who are under threat or victims will come forward and seek support as well as preventing abuse from taking place.
“We look forward to working with our partners to deliver this new service, which we believe will make a significant difference to the victims and potential victims of these forms of abuse on Merseyside.” “Since 2010, Savera UK has worked to address, challenge and provide the tools to tackle this cultural taboo on Merseyside. Time and again the charity has found that the communities within which this abuse/violence takes place are not fully equipped to confront the issues. This too extends to the professionals who are tasked with being the first line of response. The work that Savera UK will undertake through the new service will be to ensure that no vulnerable individuals are left behind and that they can rely on the institutions that are there to protect them.”Afrah Qassim, Founder and Chair of Savera UK
“Since 2010, Savera UK has worked to address, challenge and provide the tools to tackle this cultural taboo on Merseyside. Time and again the charity has found that the communities within which this abuse/violence takes place are not fully equipped to confront the issues. This too extends to the professionals who are tasked with being the first line of response. The work that Savera UK will undertake through the new service will be to ensure that no vulnerable individuals are left behind and that they can rely on the institutions that are there to protect them.”
The new services will be funded by the Police & Crime Commissioner for Merseyside as part of £1.634m grant funding by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for 2018/19. The grant will be issued to commission and/or provide and develop victims’ support services for Merseyside.