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News Report Page 3 of 11
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PCC secures extra funding to support victims of sexual violence

MORE than ₤100,000 of extra funding has been secured by Merseyside's Police Commissioner to support victims of sexual violence. Jane Kennedy has been awarded the additional Ministry of Justice funding to enhance and increase the Region's Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service supporting survivors of rape and sexual violence over the next 2 years until April 2022.

ISVAs are specially trained to provide tailored support, advice and care to victims and survivors to help them cope and recover in the aftermath of these crimes. They act as the link between the Police, support services and criminal justice agencies, helping victims to get the justice they deserve while supporting them through the Court process.

The Commissioner applied for the extraordinary funding on behalf of the charities RASA Merseyside and RASASC Cheshire and Merseyside, which she has jointly commissioned since 2015 to deliver the pan-Merseyside Victim Care Merseyside service providing specialist aftercare support to victims of rape and sexual violence. After the PCC's initial bid in January was rejected, she re-submitted the application to the Ministry of Justice, and it has now been confirmed she has been allocated a total of ₤109,400 which will be split between the 2 organisations.

Jane said:- "When victims and survivors of rape and sexual violence have the courage to speak out about their experiences and seek support they deserve the very best possible care. I'm proud to work with RASA Merseyside and RASASC Cheshire and Merseyside, who do a tremendous job delivering the Victim Care Merseyside aftercare support service for people who have been subjected to such traumatic and horrific crimes. The support they provide is essential in helping survivors to cope and recover and it requires a high degree of specialist training. ISVAs are on the frontline of this work and unfortunately, their caseloads can be worryingly high, with some trying to provide support for up to 60 survivors at any 1 time. This very welcome injection of funds will help to ensure more victims can access the specialist emotional and practical support ISVAs are trained to provide. While there is no doubt this additional money is timely and appreciated, support services for victims of sexual violence are still desperately under funded after years of austerity. I will continue to lobby Central Government to provide long term ring fenced funding to ensure every person who has been a victim of rape or sexual violence can be guaranteed ISVA support."

RASA Merseyside's Finance & Strategic Development Manager Josephine Wood MBE said:- "We are delighted to receive this additional funding for our ISVA service. It will allow us to employ an additional 1.5 ISVAs which will greatly reduce the strain on the RASA ISVA service. We aim to give every survivor of rape or other form of sexual violence a bespoke, personal care and support package but with so many survivors seeking our support, the demand has often lead to unacceptable waiting times. This additional funding will relieve that situation."

RASASC Cheshire and Merseyside's Operations Manager Julie Evans said:- "We are delighted to be able to receive additional funding to enhance our much needed service. We have restarted our face to face work and urge anyone who needs support around their experience of sexual violence to contact us."

Liverpool's Black Cabs Go Contactless

Safer Ride - Liverpool's Hackney Cabs are ready to go

ALL Hackney Cabs in Liverpool should now take contactless card payments, making travelling across the City safer and more convenient. In April, the Council's Licensing Committee agreed to accept a proposal to make contactless card payments mandatory in all of the City's 1,426 strong fleet of Hackney Cabs.  The move was to bring Liverpool in line with other big Cities. such as London, where Cabs are already fitted with card payment machines. It has also helped the Black Cabs keep pace with the City's Private Hire vehicles, many of which already accept card payments. It means that people travelling around the City, especially at night, do not have to rely on having cash on them to get home safely.

The City Council consulted widely with Liverpool's Hackney drivers before the decision was taken. The Cab Drivers raised concerns about where the payment machines should be located. It was decided that the reader should be placed in a plastic partition between the driver and passenger. Chair of Liverpool City Council's Licensing Committee, Cllr Christine Banks, said:- "At a time when we are re-opening the City following lockdown, the full introduction of contactless payment will be a real boost to the Cab trade in the City. The move will provide passengers with the reassurance they need that they are limiting contact and therefore reducing the risk of spreading the Coronavirus. We hope, in turn, this will encourage more people to travel by Cab and give the trade the support it needs for what has been a difficult period. All our Cabs undergo inspection by the Council on an annual basis and now should have the card payment machines fitted. Any that are found to be flouting this rule may face enforcement action. We would ask members of the public to ensure the Cab has a payment machine before travelling and to inform us if it does not."

Following the initial decision by the Licensing Committee, drivers were given 6 month period to make the necessary adjustments to their vehicles and have the payment machines installed.  That period ended this week, which means that all of the Hackney Cabs must now have the facility to accept card payments. The move comes at a time when due to the Coronavirus outbreak, contactless card payments have become the accepted method of paying for goods and services.  All of the City's Hackney Cabs also have plastic partition screens fitted to further protect both passenger and driver from spreading the infection. The enhanced safety and security of the City's Cabs also comes on the heels of recent news that Liverpool has been recognised as the:- 'most accessible City in the country' in terms of travelling by Cab. Tommy McIntyre, who is Liverpool's national Taxi organiser for Unite, said:- "Liverpool is a vibrant tourist attraction as well we having an international airport, railway Stations and a major shopping centre, which are serviced by our Cabs. Now all customers will now know if they wish too, they can pay by card. Tourists to the City and locals customers will know that any Cab they hire from the street, a rank or radio system will take payment by card. This can only be a good thing and benefit the customers and our members alike. As we are still in the midst of Covid-19 and the chances of the disease spreading. It must be realised that all Liverpool Cabs are purpose built Taxis and have a completely separate compartment for the customer away from the driver and the vehicle is sanitized after every journey. By our Cabs having the facility of taking card payments will make it less likely to transmit the disease from person to person by limiting the use of cash."

Research by the website, identifies Liverpool as the City with the most wheelchair accessible Cabs per head of population. All of Liverpool's Black Cabs are abler to take wheelchairs meaning there are nearly 3 accessible Cabs for every 1,000 residents of the City.

Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Inclusive and Accessible City, Cllr Pam Thomas, said:- "It's fantastic news that our City has been recognised as the most accessible in the country in terms of travelling by Cab. Our Licensing Team has worked closely with the trade to ensure that all wheelchair-users have the right and the ability to get around our City in the same way as everyone else. It's part of our wider plan to make our City accessible for everyone and a great example of how we are all working together to improve the quality of life for everyone in Liverpool."

For more information about Taxi Licensing issues in Liverpool, visit:- Liverpool.Gov.UK and search for:- 'Taxi Licensing.'

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