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Tees Valley Sexual Violence Forum: an overview: Jill Radford The forum meets on Friday lunchtimes, every 4- weeks at the University of Teesside It is open.

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Presentation on theme: "Tees Valley Sexual Violence Forum: an overview: Jill Radford The forum meets on Friday lunchtimes, every 4- weeks at the University of Teesside It is open."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tees Valley Sexual Violence Forum: an overview: Jill Radford The forum meets on Friday lunchtimes, every 4- weeks at the University of Teesside It is open to representatives of any local agency whose work includes responding to sexual violence and Any individual with an interest in or experience of working in this area For details of the next meeting, please contact the Chair: This presentation reviews the work of Tees Valley Sexual Violence Forum between 2002 and 2006

2 The Local: Where we are

3 History of Feminist Activism Around Violence Against Women in Tees Valley Locally feminists were active around sexual and domestic violence since the 1970s 4 Women’s Aid Refuges were founded in the 1970s Cleveland Rape Crisis Centre was founded in later known as CRSACS and CREATE

4 Local Experience of Forum Working Cleveland Domestic Violence Forum, one of the earliest, was formed in 1992 Chaired by Women’s Aid - an active forum, with many achievements including: hosting a 3-yr Zero Tolerance Campaign : ‘Cleveland’ abolished : Domestic Violence Forums founded in the 4 new Unitary authorities and in 2000 Darlington, Co. Durham (2000)

5 By 2002, Cleveland Rape Crisis Centre was: 21 years old - the largest in UK ~ 25 workers Income generating & supported by grants Providing counselling, advocacy and support ~ sexual violence and drugs+ eating disorders Training voluntary and statutory services Researching the attrition crisis (Home Office) Responding to Setting the Boundaries In negotiation with Cleveland Police and NHS ~ establishing a SARC for the region Broad-based and working in partnership with voluntary and statutory agencies

6 Rape Crisis in Crisis As a consequence of the insecure and inadequate funding regimes which characterises the voluntary sector... In Nov 2002, Cleveland Rape Crisis (CREATE) was suddenly closed and declared bankrupt The closure of such an established key service became a major issue at the Changing Law, Changing Practice Conference, where in consequence:

7 Tees Valley Sexual Violence Forum was founded with the closure of CREATE, in December There was a crisis re sexual abuse counselling services across Teesside. Subsequently SEARCH extended its services in Hartlepool and expanded to cover Stockton Redcar Women's Aid, with workers from former CREATE established a sexual violence counselling service covering Redcar and East Cleveland. Women's Support Network stepped in to continue to provide a sexual violence counselling and advocacy service in Middlesbrough. All these organisation are providing an excellent service across Teesside but funding remains a constant issue.

8 International Week of Action Against Violence Against Women Rape: Changing Law – Changing Practice Conference Nov 2002 MDVF and University of Teesside Speakers Harriet Harman MP, QC, Solicitor General Vera Baird MP, QC, Redcar Alane Aitken: Women’s Support Network Kay Davies: CREATE - freedom from sexual violence Chair: Professor Jill Radford

9 Tees Valley Sexual Violence Forum - an inauspicious and auspicious start Originated in a major crisis – the collapse of the region’s rape crisis centre At a major Conference – Attended by over 100 people, including MPs, Women’s Voluntary sector, police, CPS … Addressed by a government minister – the Solicitor General

10 Tees Valley Sexual Violence Forum: Aims from these origins a 3-point agenda emerged: Re-establishing rape crisis services for the region Engaging with the draft Sexual Offences Bill, now the Sexual Offences Act 2003 Making a ‘state of the art’ Sexual Assault Referral Centre a reality Meetings at the University, Friday lunch-times, every 6- weeks-ish.

11 Black Women’s DV net M.P. Redcar Women’s Support Network N.Tees W. Aid Redcar & Cleveland W. Aid NISAA Asian Women’s Health M’Bro Refuge Nat. Council Women My Sister’s Place MDVF SECOS Jill R Uni Cleveland Police Hospital Dr. Barnardos Bridgeway Uni Researchers Ex- CREATE workers

12 Forum Achievements -1 Rape Crisis Services Sexual Offences Act 2003 Audit of local counselling services Supported bids for emergency measures Supported bids for new services in S.Tees and development of services in N.Tees Services now in place, but on a much smaller scale than previously Now Law Engaged with the SO Bill as it went thru’ Parliament - via MP Monitoring its impact - still seeking funding for a research project

13 Forum Achievements - SARC Slower Progress - –Cleveland Police commitment £500k (2002) –Health authorities slower ‘rape not a health priority’ - commitment secured 2005 Representation on - SARC planning committee with Cleveland Police and NHS - and sub groups Consultation Survey Public education and awareness raising Lobbying MPs Planning in final stages, Jan 2006, but hit a set back and lost the proposed building Awaiting news re another building - June 2006

14 Tees Valley Sexual Violence Forum with the University of Teesside Sexual Violence Services: Consultation Survey Report February 2004 Professor Jill Radford & Sue Alderson Section for the Study of Gender Violence Social Futures Research Institute School of Social Sciences and Law University of Teesside

15 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY EVENT BIG CONVERSATION: SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Saturday MARCH 27th 2004, UNIVERSITY OF TEESSIDE ♀ SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 2003 ♀ PLANNING-TEESSIDE SEXUAL ASSAULT REFERRAL CENTRE (SARC) ♀ DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, CRIME AND VICTIMS BILL 2003 Keynote Speakers: Professor Liz Kelly CBE Vera Baird Q.C. MP Dari Taylor MP Patricia Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC (video) Salma Castle: NISAA Professor Jill Radford: Chair

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17 Other Forum Activities Opposed licence application from a local lap dancing club – failed Series of complaints re police responses to rape complaints - brought to the forum by young women from across the region - followed -up ~ being pressured to withdraw complaints by officers from outside the investigation team ~ Police - public statement that young women going out drinking ‘provoke’ it

18 Challenges: ‘Talking Shop’ Although ‘talking shop’ is a common criticism of forums – Tees Valley Sexual Violence Forum – talks a lot – we find it a necessary and productive activity that facilitates strategic thinking & interventions As a Forum, we have chosen to operate like a ‘think tank’ / policy advisory or pressure group and networking forum As a Forum we don’t aspire to run services ourselves but aim to identify gaps and promote the development of new services

19 Challenges: No money, no bank account, no written constitution, or named officers (other than Chair) These have been discussed occasionally and no doubt will be again – but there’s always been more pressing concerns Including maintaining autonomy- avoiding being co-opted or appropriated by statutory authorities - a danger currently facing domestic violence forums

20 Conclusion As a Forum we have achieved such success as we’ve had because of: Historical idioscyncracies Feminist Activism Prior experience of forum working Commitment and talents of all involved Diversity within the region


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