Deputy mayor for policing visits Whitechapel rape centre

Kit Malthouse, Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s right-hand man, was given a guided tour of a Whitechapel centre which supports the victims of rape and sexual assault today (November 15).

The deputy mayor for policing spoke to NHS staff and police officers at The Haven in Brady Street to mark the 10th anniversary of Haven centres in London.

The first Haven opened in Camberwell in 2000 with further centres opening in Paddington and in 2004 in Whitechapel.

Mr Malthouse said: “It’s very difficult to come and hear about what people go through but you also see what a professional and calming atmosphere there is.

“I’ve seen how much this helps people who have been through a traumatic experience and how much it can help the police in investigating what has happened.”

Funding of the centre, which helped 700 people in the last year and includes waiting rooms, examination facilities and counselling rooms, is split equally between the Metropolitan Police and the Barts and the London NHS Trust.

Mr Malthouse learned how the majority of visitors to the centre are referred and brought to the centre by a member of the police’s Project Sapphire team.

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Trained medical staff talk victims through what an examination involves and gather forensic evidence and DNA samples which are used in court at a later date, dependent on the victim’s consent.

The centre also offers the support of counsellors, psychologists and other trained NHS professionals throughout the following year.

Mr Malthouse said: “In the early hours and days, it is important that we get it right and that is what the Haven does.

“We have seen a big rise in reported cases of rape.

“It could be that women now have greater confidence in reporting it and that confidence can come from places like this.”

Elizabeth Harrison, the Haven service manager, said: “We are there for people within the hour and we’re set up to be in use 24 hours a day.”

The centre also has a dedicated worker to encourage victims in the local south Asian population to use its services.

The Haven’s confidential services can be accessed 24 hours a day on 020 7247 4787.