Essex sex assault unit disbanded

A sexual assault unit in Essex was disbanded in April, it has been revealed to the BBC.

Police started the county's unit as a pilot in 2009 to deal specifically with sexually assaulted men, women and children.

Now police have admitted it was stopped after the six-month period came to an end.

A police spokeswoman said they could not justify carrying the specialist unit on.

A police spokeswoman said: "During the pilot officers were able to learn lessons about the way we deal with victims of serious sexual crimes.

New centre

"However, there were no noticeable improvements in other areas to justify the continuation of any specialist unit.

"The force decided to move in a new direction and is to set up units to deal with all serious crime."

In January 2011 a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) will open in the grounds of Brentwood Community Hospital.

The centre at at Oakwood Place will offer sex assault victims support and medical help.

SARCs are designed to minimise the long-term emotional and physical consequences of assault.

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