ONE of four new rape crisis centres to be funded by the Ministry of Justice will be based in Taunton, it has emerged.

The centre will cover the four local authority areas of Somerset, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset (BANES) – where an estimated 10,500 women suffer rape or sexual violence each year.

Lee Eggleston, Chair of Rape Crisis (England and Wales) said: “Up until now, such support has not been available in these areas or, at best, women and girls have had to travel into the next county or metropolitan area, with some journeys taking hours, to receive the services they want and need.”

The centre in Taunton, which will be run by Bristol Rape Crisis, will open within a year along with three other centres in Reading, Preston and Lincoln, thanks to a £4m grant from the government.

Dawn Taylor, South West regional development worker at Bristol Rape Crisis said: "The vast majority of survivors do not report the offences against them to the police but still suffer the devastating consequences that can last for years and even decades.

"Women will have access to locally based holistic services that meet their particular needs which, for too long, have been absent in these areas."

The new services will include confidential telephone helplines and one-to-one face-to-face support which will be tailored to meet the needs of local women and girls

Victims of historic and childhood rape will be able to contact the service as well as recent victims.