THE Thames Valley's top cop has ruled out police support for a sexual assault referral centre (Sarc) in Reading.

Chief Constable Sara Thornton told Reading Borough Council's cabinet this week the force already funded a centre in Slough and a soon-to-open Sarc in Bletchley, near Milton Keynes.

Ch Con Thornton said the centres were well spread geographically to support victims in the Thames Valley and it was better to have two well-funded facilities than three with less resources.

She added: "My understanding was there is no more money in the budget. If there is

something else to be done practically with the voluntary sector around sexual assault then we are up for that. I'm afraid I can't give you good news about the Sarc."

Sarcs are funded by police and health authorities and provide free services for victims, including medical care, forensic examinations and counselling.

Community care councillor, Rachel Eden, whose motion calling for the council to support Reading Sarc campaigners was approved last month, said the chief constable's comments were "disappointing".

But Cllr Eden added: "It is still early stages and we will keep trying. It is essential we have police co-operation and we need to find out what the health view is. We always knew it was going to be tough."

A rape victim, who lives in Reading and has been blogging since her attack, has written online about her expereince visiting the Slough Sarc.

She wrote on councillor Eden's blog: "For four days I did not go to Slough because I was incapable of using public transport nor could I afford cab fare.

"If a Sarc was in Reading then I could have jumped in a cab. I did do forensics on the fifth day after my attack and an arrest has been made but those four days I did not go mean I missed the opportunity to have a drug rape blood test."

Nicola Sevenoaks, assistant head of engagement and communications at NHS Berkshire said: "There are no plans to fund additional provision."

Councillor Eden said she was planning to raise the issue with Berkshire West PCT.