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Child House Could Secure More Sex Abuse Convictions

A specialist facility for child victims of sexual abuse is likely to lead to more convictions, say police.

A Child House will be developed at Jersey's Sexual Assault Referral Centre, thanks to £2.55 million pounds of public funding.

Dewberry House opened in 2017 offering a coordinated forensic, counselling and aftercare service to anyone who has ever been sexually assaulted.

272 people were seen at the terraced property on Route du Fort in the first two years.

It is now set to move to a purpose-built centre and include what is known as a Child House dedicated to young victims.

NSPCC staff who have advised on the model elsewhere have been in talks with police and SARC managers.

Acting Superintendent Alison Fossey says it will improve a child's experience  - reducing trauma, leading to better evidence collection and increasing the chances of gaining convictions.

"“This new development will enhance the experience of the whole process for young victims of sexual abuse, post-disclosure. From a criminal justice perspective, the Child’s House will provide advocacy and intermediary support, leading to better engagement and better evidence collected by video interviews. A video link from the centre will prevent the young victim being required to attend court, in turn reducing stress for the victims and their caregivers. Coupled with the other fundamental elements of the model such as easier and quicker access to long term therapeutic support, we believe that this should increase the likelihood of reaching charging thresholds and gaining convictions.”

Laura Osmand, Manager of the SARC, says a Child House will bring all the agencies under one roof, putting children at the heart of the process.

The funding was agreed in the Government Plan.  Work will begin soon on selecting an appropriate site.

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