Hinckley & Rugby Building Society’s two decades of support for child victims and witnesses of crime was praised at the reopening of Leicestershire Police’s dedicated evidence centre for young people.
The centre, which has been newly renamed the Lighthouse, is at a discreet location in Leicestershire and has been specifically redesigned with young people in mind. Called the St Bernard’s Centre when it opened in 1999, after many years of use it needed modernising.
Since 1999 Hinckley & Rugby has donated use of the house, enabling the Police to save money which can be spent on support services for children.
As well as being a place where young people can be interviewed and meet police staff and officers, it also has the latest remote link technology so children can give their evidence from the centre without having to attend court.
The Society’s involvement arose almost 20 years ago as the result of a conversation between its then chief executive Barry Hunt and the former Chief Constable David Wyrko. Barry said:
“David had been frustrated in his attempts to create such a centre. I went away and did some research into the Society buying a house and lending it to the Police. So that’s what we did, finding a suitable property that was detached and sizeable enough.
“The local media got behind the project, which led to a lot of other local businesses also becoming involved by donating furniture and money. It opened and helped many children over the next two decades, but technology has moved on, offending has evolved, and the house needed updating.
“Back in 1999 it was a ground-breaking facility and now in 2018 it is again. It is totally refreshed, looks great and is again fit for purpose. The Police believe it will be used a great deal.
“I was honoured to be asked to cut the ribbon to open the Lighthouse. It’s very pleasing that an idea we had before the Millennium is still going strong, having done so much for the community, and will now continue doing so for years to come.”
Sexual Assault Referral Centre manager Millie Gant said:
“This project was a collaborative effort which couldn’t have been completed without a lot of support, input and suggestions from our partner agencies and sponsors which include Hinckley & Rugby Building Society.
“The Lighthouse does not look anything like a Police building, either from the inside or outside. Without the backing of Hinckley & Rugby the project would never have gone ahead. The Society’s ongoing support is absolutely fundamental to the Lighthouse. “It makes such a positive difference for the young victims of crime. The Lighthouse will now be here for another 20 years thanks to Hinckley & Rugby’s dedication to this community resource.”
The dedicated evidence centre has been relaunched with the support of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Lord Willy Bach.