A VITAL service for victims of sexual offences - which has seen referrals more than double in two years - has received a £100,000 funding boost.

Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall is continuing his funding of therapeutic services at The Bridgeway, which offers support for anyone across Cumbria affected by rape or sexual assault.

These services are provided by Safety Net (UK) and were accessed by more than 200 people last year.

Victims meet therapists and support staff who help them understand and deal with the impact of the sexual assault or abuse. Pre-trial therapy is also available to support those whose case is going through the criminal justice system.

The service has seen an increase in referrals of 107 per cent in the last two years with the number of men coming forward for support rising.

Safety Net office manager Jo Birch said: "It is such a needed service and it's important that it is recognised as a vital point in someone's recovery."

Safety net itself has seen referrals more than double since 2013-2014.

In 2017-2018 more than 630 people accessed support from Safety Net, with children and young people counting for about 27 per cent of all referrals.

Jo said: "It has definitely increased in people knowing who were are and where we are.

"With the publicity of things and people being out there and open about it, it does help but we still need to get our name out."

Safety Net has a base in Carlisle's Fisher Street but its support can be accessed across the county, including at The Bridgeway's Penrith base.

Detective Chief Inspector Dan St Quintin of Cumbria Police said the therapeutic support funded by the PCC is "invaluable" in keeping vulnerable people safe in Cumbria.

"Not only do these services support victims of serious crime, they support professionals from agencies in Cumbria to provide the best all round service they can to the people who need it most," he said.

"Therapeutic services in Cumbria focus on the needs of those who use them and have really increased Cumbria Constabulary’s success in preventing harm, reducing reoffending and bringing offenders to justice.

"They have also ensured that the multi-agency partnerships in Cumbria have effective local options to refer people into when they need help."

The Bridgeway also offers forensic medical examinations and victim support. For more information or to talk to someone call 0808 1186432.