SPECIALIST support and advice could be available for hundreds more victims of domestic and sexual violence in North Yorkshire under a new contract.

Responsibility for support services for victims will be taken from the national charity Victim Support and given to Police and Crime Commissioners from April next year, and new funding from the Ministry of Justice has been announced this week to urge companies to bid for the work.

Julia Mulligan, working with North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council, has invited organisations to bid to deliver the 18-month contract, worth £450,000 - more than twice the previous budget of £125,000.

The increase could see up to 570 more victims of domestic and sexual violence receive specialist support.

Mrs Mulligan said: "It takes an incredible deal of courage and support for a victim to come forward and report these crimes, to possibly go through the process of testifying in court and ultimately move on and rebuild their life. That’s why it’s so important that we have the highest quality services, and the right levels of resource in the right place.

"These contracts will also put domestic and sexual violence advisors on a firm financial footing for the first time in years and will see their numbers rise from four to ten. Where appropriate, they will also expand the service provided by Independent Sexual Violence Advisors to include working with children in addition to the current service offered to adults. And it will mean that we are able to provide practical and emotional support to all victims of domestic violence, not just those at medium and high risk."

Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson, the Force lead for Protecting Vulnerable People, said: “A top priority for the force is ensuring that officers and staff effectively investigate reports of domestic abuse and provide a quality service that ensures victims are safe and supported. I strongly support the new proposals which build upon the good work that is already undertaken by North Yorkshire Police and its partners to safeguard victims.”

Interested organisations have until midday on July 9 to submit a bid. More information is available at northyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk