A pioneering centre for children, young people and adults who have been victims of sexual assault and other forms of abuse and neglect is to be created for Edinburgh and the Lothians.
A group of agencies have joined forces to develop the £2.9m bespoke facility, which will be the first of its kind in Scotland when it is launched in Edinburgh next year.
The Equally Safe Multi-Agency Centre is being spearheaded by NHS Lothian, City of Edinburgh Council and Police Scotland and is backed by £2.4m of Scottish Government funding.
The group, which drew in the expertise of charities Rape Crisis and Children First, will launch a one-stop, safe space for child protection, victims of gender-based violence and abuse from across Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian.
Work is expected to begin in 2019 and the specialist centre will bring experts from child and adult protection, healthcare, police and social work together under one roof to provide age appropriate, wrap around care.
The multi-agency centre moved a step closer to reality today after it was given the formal seal of approval at a City of Edinburgh Council meeting, the final partner organisation.
Andrew Kerr, Chair of the Chief Officers’ Group for Public Protection, and Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “The creation of this centre is a fine example of partners working together providing services for the benefit of the public when they need us most.
“The centre will deliver specialist services for both child and adult victims of sexual assault and other forms of abuse. Professionals will work together to hear their accounts and provide healthcare and other support if needed.”
The centre will be created in St Katharine’s Centre in Edinburgh, which is currently owned by the City of Edinburgh Council.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We are working to improve the experiences of victims at every stage of their journey through the justice system.”
Tim Davison, Chief Executive of NHS Lothian, said: “This bespoke facility will provide vital services to adults, young people and children when they are at their most vulnerable.
Police Scotland, which makes up the third member of the Chief Officers Group for Public Protection, said the facility would provide a centre of excellence in Scotland.
Detective Chief Superintendent Lesley Boal, lead for Public Protection for Police Scotland, said: “This is a significant and important step forward in improving and providing a trauma informed service to children who may have been neglected or abused and to adult victims of sexual crime.”