Sex abuse trust closes as police help improves

A charity that offered counselling to victims of sexual abuse has closed and donated its remaining funds to the police in recognition of the improvement in professional victim support services.

Battersea Courage Trust closed operations and gave ?xA3;2,200 to police to improve patient facilities at King's College Hospital and at Wandsworth Police station.

Some of the money will go towards additional services at The Haven, a clinic at King's College Hospital where patients can give statements in a non-threatening environment. The remaining cash will be put towards assisting Wandsworth police's sexual offences investigation team.

Judith Clegg, who launched the Battersea Courage Trust in 1997 after suffering a sexual attack, said that she felt that this was the most appropriate way to use the charity's funds.

"I started Battersea Courage Trust to provide a service that would really make a difference to the lives of people who had reported a sexual assault,

she said. "The police have moved on and are now doing this job for us.

Over the past couple of years, the standard of professional support facilities has improved to the state where we can't provide any real add-on support."

Clegg said that the money would be put towards providing extra amenities, such as spare clothing, that are outside the restrictions of NHS or police funding. Some of the money has already been used to buy mobile phones to allow victims to communicate with trained police officers at any time.

"It's often the smallest things that can make the biggest difference to victims who have reported an attack,

she explained. "It's all about making them feel that they're receiving due care and attention. I hope that victims of attacks are encouraged by the improved level of support to come forward and report crime."

The charity's existing donors are being encouraged to lend their support to The Haven to continue to build on counselling services. Clegg will continue to aid community-counselling services by organising fundraising events and raising awareness of community services on offer.

"I know from my experience how invaluable counselling and support are to the people who have suffered a violent attack,

she continued. "I hope that anyone who becomes a victim of sexual crime realises that the police do understand how to help."

Clegg was formerly chief operating officer at Moonfruit, a web agency that builds sites for voluntary organisations. She also co-runs Glasshouse, a non-profit company that promotes and supports entrepreneurial activity.

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