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Please contact Charlotte Batra on 07932 919573 for all media enquiries

Remote video link will help reduce stress of giving evidence in court

Photo Opportunity:

  • Date: Wednesday September 21st 2016
  • Time: 0900-10.00am
  • Location: St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)
  • Event: Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner conducts live link to Minshull Street Crown Square using St Mary’s SARC Remote Court Link.

A new remote video link to court that lets people who have experienced sexual violence give evidence directly from the St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) was officially launched this week.

The new live link will mean that some of the most vulnerable witnesses will be able to give their evidence and be cross examined without having to enter a court room or a court building and is one of a number of measures to help reduce the anxiety, trauma and stress many people experience when going to court.

The new remote video link has been made possible through funding from the Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd*.  A total of £109,000 has been invested in creating a secure, specially adapted area of St Mary’s SARC that can be accessed by an entrance that is separate from the main SARC further the reducing the stress experienced.

Dr Catherine White, Clinical Director at the St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, said: “Many of our clients tell us they find the prospect of going to court to give evidence terrifying. It is hoped that this additional option, of using the live link, will remove some of this fear and ensure that clients provide the best possible evidence to the court.

“During our pilot period six clients, including 3 young children opted to use the live link to provide their evidence direct to court. Feedback has been excellent and we are confident this measure will broaden the choices available to our clients. Our team of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors provide vital support during court trials and this will be further reinforced by the remote video link at St Mary’s SARC.”

Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester’s Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Victims and survivors of sexual assault have already made a brave step in coming forward so it’s crucial that the criminal justice system supports them, not cause them more distress.   Many victims say that the court process is as traumatic as their original ordeal. I’ve been working with the police, courts and support services to address this.

“This new video link will be a lifeline to vulnerable people who understandably don’t want to face the ordeal of a courtroom, so they can give evidence in a way that makes them feel secure. It is another step towards ensuring that victims and witnesses are truly at the heart of the criminal justice system.”

The remote video link is one of a number of special measures available to vulnerable witnesses that include the option of giving their evidence from behind a screen, via video link from a different part of the court or now, via remote video link not within the court building.   All applications for special measures are agreed by the court in advance. His Honour Judge Michael Leeming at Crown Square Manchester helped shape the protocol now used for evidence given from the St Mary’s Centre.

Users of the video link will be met at St Mary’s SARC by an usher from the Crown Court who will sit with them in the room while they give evidence. A live link into the court room will enable barrister to cross examine the witnesses and the court room and jurors will be able to clearly see the witness on a television screen.

A separate area has been created within the remote video link suite for family and carers who accompany witnesses.

The remote video link is currently operational in all Greater Manchester Crown Courts including Crown Square and Minshull Street and Bolton Crown Courts.

The project has been developed through successful partnerships developed between St Mary’s SARC, Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, Manchester’s Witness Care Unit, Greater Manchester Police and Witness Service and the Crown Prosecution Service.


Campaign launched to encourage more people to report rape in Cheshire

A new campaign to encourage more people in Cheshire to report rape and seek the help they need was  launched in June 2016 by Cheshire Sexual Assault Services.

A new website has been created to give people who have experienced rape or sexual assault all the details they need to receive support and encourage people to contact the service directly.

Click here to read more

St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre 14th Annual Conference, The Midland Hotel, April 21st and 22nd
Sexual Violence and Children

Improving services and creating greater understanding of the issues surrounding rape and sexual violence against children and young people was the focus of the St Mary’s Centre’s 15th annual conference which took place at the Midland Hotel, Manchester on April 21st and 22nd.

Click here to read more


St Mary’s SARC launches a 5 point plan for professionals as part of CSE Awareness Week

A five point plan aimed at professionals working with young people who have experienced sexual exploitation was launched by St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) as part of CSE Awareness Week (March 14-18).

The five point plan aims to encourage young people to come forward and also provide professionals working in the field with greater understanding, knowledge and confidence of what young people need.

Click here to read more
January 2016

St Mary’s SARC will be marking its 30th anniversary year with a number of events and activities. The launch will take place on January 28th 2016.

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October 2015

St Mary’s SARC released information on the number of clients that use its services.

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May 2015

On May 18th, St Mary’s SARC launched an ISVA shadowing scheme in partnership with barristers from the Northern Circuit.

Click here to find out more

February 2015

St Mary’s Centre 13th Annual Conference took place at the Palace Hotel on Thursday February 26th and Friday February 27th 2016

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April 2014

Dr Catherine White picking up her OBE in London on April 4th 2014. Well done to Dr White a great achievement.


February 2014

St Mary’s Centre 12th Annual Conference took place at Manchester Town Hall on Thursday February 27th and Friday February 28th.

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December 2013

Dr Catherine White receives an OBE in the New Year’s Honour’s List

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June 2013

The work of St Mary’s SARC to feature in BBC1 Documentary

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FAQs on St Mary’s SARC’s participation in the BBC1 Documentary to be broadcast tonight, June 4th at 10.35pm

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Media interviews taking place today on the forthcoming documentary about the work of St Mary’s SARC.

BBC Breakfast News today June 3 on BBC1 Documentary which features St Mary’s SARC

Interview with Dr Cath White and Juliet (St Mary’s Centre client) on BBC Radio 5Live: (Interview starts at 2 hours, 41 mins 18 seconds)

Interview with Dr Cath White and Juliet (St Mary’s Centre client) on BBC Radio 4 (Interview starts just after 2 hours 53 minutes)

The work of the St Mary’s Centre is to be the focus of a one-hour documentary to be broadcast on BBC1 on June 4th at 10.35pm.  Make sure you tune in. 


May 2013

Comparing Sexual Assault Interventions (COSAI): Fostering good practice in servies for women in Europe summary report now published

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St Mary’s SARC to be the focus of a one hour documentary on BBC One 

Gold Star productions have been commissioned to produced a one off documentary for BBC One which documents the work of our dedicated team of doctors, crisis workers and counsellors. It will take a look at the services available at the Centre which are shown through personal stories of two women who have been raped.

The documentary will be broadcast on June 4th at 10.35pm on BBC1.

read more

February 2013

Conference highlights sexual violence in the context of domestic abuse

The theme of the St Mary’s Centre 11th Annual Conference which took place at Manchester Town Hall on Thursday February 28 and Friday March 1 2013 was sexual violence in the context of domestic abuse. More than 200 delegates attended the conference to listen to a range of speakers that included:

• The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC
• Diana Barran, Chief Executive of CAADA
• Ann Coffey MP for Stockport
• Vanita Parekh, Unit Director Clinical Forensic Medical Services ACT Austrailia

read more

August 2012

St Mary’s involvement in the Coronation Street rape storyline has led to a rape victim coming forward and successfully prosecuting his attacker.

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St Mary’s SARC is one of nine organisations to have successfully bid for a share of £1.2m funding from the Home Office to support young people suffering sexual violence, including by gangs.

At total of 13 new young people advocates will be recruited across the UK and each post will be awarded a grant of £30k per year for three years. St Mary’s has been awarded funding for one of those posts.

The £1.2m fund was announced as part of the ending gang and youth violence plan published on 1 November 2011.

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March 2012

New Cheshire service for victims of rape and sexual assault

A new specialist and comprehensive service providing high quality care for victims of rape and sexual assault is now available to children, young people and adults living in the Cheshire area.

Established in 2011 for police referrals, the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) for Cheshire is being delivered by the St Mary’s SARC in Manchester together with Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC). St Mary’s SARC will provide forensic examinations for adults and children of all ages while RASASC will provide aftercare services for those aged 13 and over including counselling, support and access to an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) who provides support through the criminal justice system. Aftercare services for the under 13s will be provided by St Mary’s SARC. The service is now open for self-referrals.

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Left to right: Moira Chapman, Cheshire Police Authority, Helen Ward, RASASC, Susan Forster, SARC Commissioning Group, Bernie Ryan, St Mary’s Centre Manager, Dave Whatton, Chief Constable Cheshire Constabulary.

February 2012

Conference highlights sexual exploitation and how best to protect the vulnerable

Understanding the complexities and challenges of how to best protect vulnerable people from sexual exploitation was the theme of the St Mary’s Centre 10th Annual Conference which took place at Manchester Town Hall on Thursday February 23 and Friday February 24 2012.

Among the keynote speakers were:

• Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton MP
• Anne Marie Carrie, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s
• Sue Jago, author of the report, ‘What’s going on to safeguard children and young people from sexual exploitation’.
• Sheila Taylor, the National Working Group on Sexual Exploitation

More than 150 delegates from a range of professions including police officer, healthcare and the voluntary sector took part in the conference to debate key areas around sexual exploitation.

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November 2011

St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) celebrated its 25 year anniversary and relocation to new accommodation.

St Mary’s SARC provides a comprehensive service to victims of rape and sexual abuse living in the Greater Manchester and Cheshire area. Over the past year, more than 1,000 people have used the service with just under half of these being children. The Centre’s new accommodation now boasts three examination suites, each tailored to meet the needs of adults and children.

Helping to mark the Centre’s new accommodation and 25th Anniversary will be the installation of an innovative art project designed specifically for young children using the Centre. The ‘Luna’ will comprise a portable interactive projection onto the ceiling or wall of the Children’s forensic examination suite. The child client will have a stress ball to hold and manipulate which will control the movement of shapes, colours and activity of the light projection depending on how the ball is squeezed and moved.

The installation cost £8,000 and was funded entirely by Soroptimist International of Manchester. Soroptimist International is a worldwide organisation for women in management and the professions, who work through service projects to advance human rights and the status of women. The Manchester club was chartered in 1926 and celebrated 80 years of service in the city by fundraising for the St Mary’s Centre’s Children’s Service. Through their hard work and dedication they raised £12,000 that allowed the art project to come to life and helped in creating a suitable environment for children and adolescents.

November 1 2011

St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) response to Ending Gang and Youth Violence – A Cross-Government Report

St Mary’s Centre Manager and Chair of the National SARC Advisory Board, Bernie Ryan, welcomed the Government announcement of £1.2 m of additional funding over the next 3 years to improve services for young people under 18 suffering sexual violence in urban areas.

Commenting on the announcement, Bernie Ryan, said: “The additional £400,000 per year for the next 3 years will go some way to address the particular needs of children and young people who have experienced rape and sexual assault, including those involved with gangs.

“There are currently a small number of sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) and other specialist sexual violence services which meet the specific needs of children and young people when they have suffered rape or sexual assault/abuse. At St Mary’s SARC we have a dedicated Children’s Service.

“We recognise that young children have very different needs from adolescents. This additional funding will go some way in gaining a greater perspective on the problem and assist in the implementation of services specifically designed to meet the needs of children and young people.”

Earlier this month, the Children’s Commissioner announced a two year inquiry into the extent of sexual exploitation in gangs and claimed that as many as 10,000 children could be sexually exploited in this way.

Bernie Ryan continued: “The Centre currently provides a service to more than a 1,000 men, women and children and just under a half of those are under 18.

“We welcome the opportunity to work together with government to address the issues to protect our children and young people, provide child specific services and engage in a sexual violence education and prevention programme.”

St Mary’s Centre is the UK’s first sexual assault referral centre and is a unique collaborative venture between Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University Hospitals NHS Trust, Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Police Authority. Established in 1986 to provide a comprehensive and co-ordinated forensic, counselling and aftercare service to adults in Greater Manchester who have experienced rape or sexual assault (whether recently or in the past).