HOME Secretary Amber Rudd praised the work of a Birkenhead-based centre for victims of sexual abuse during a visit to Wirral this afternoon.

The Government minister visited Rape & Sexual Abuse (RASA) Centre on Whetstone Lane, Wallasey Town Hall and the Globe's office as part of her day in Merseyside.

Set up by Jo Wood MBE, the centre has been at the heart of RASA for 30 years and is 100m from the spot where, in 1986, Diane Sindall was raped and murdered.

This was the trigger for creating a centre to support victims of rape and began by helping up to 200 women a year. The volunteer team now work with 3,000 men, women and children, across the whole of Merseyside.

The team of women staff and volunteers continue to deliver professional, qualified support for all survivors of sexual violence in Wirral under contract to Wirral Borough Council Public Health Team.

Asked her reasons for visiting the RASA centre Ms Rudd said: “One of my priorities is about vulnerability.

“I really got into politics to help women and campaign for better treatment and equality for women.

“It’s also about protecting vulnerable people and violence. Violence against women is also one of my priorities.

“We’re bringing forward a domestic abuse bill and while I was up here I thought I would go and see the RASA centre to see what goes on there, see if we can offer any support and see what issues they were addressing.”

During a press briefing with Globe reporters, Ms Rudd was asked about police funding and how residents had been asked to pay extra council tax to protect frontline policing in Merseyside.

“We’ve protected the police budget from 2015-20, which is a better settlement than some other public services got,” she said.

“Listening to people last year, I really heard loud and clear that some communities felt they needed more police officers and they wanted the wherewithal to be able to pay for them.

“So, we’ve given police and crime commissioners the extra powers to be able raise some money if they think that’s what their communities want.

“It’s £1 a month, £12 a year so the police commissioner can, in her words, put another 60 officers on the streets and I think it is the right thing to do.

“In terms of it being Government or locally funded, someone’s got to pay for it one way or another. I’m a big supporter of having local crime commissioners locally accountable for this choice.

“Spending that money makes it more directly relevant to communities.”

Asked if police and crime commissioners had been more effective than the previous police authorities, Ms Rudd replied: “Compared to what we had before, nobody knew who was on their police board; nobody had a name.

“They were just vaguely aware that somebody was in charge.

“This way you’ve got an individual who’s accountable to the electorate and is spending money wisely.

“They have raised a number of issues with me, which I’m looking at, but I think that you are well looked after in Merseyside by the police force.”

Talking about this week’s celebration of the suffragettes and women in politics, Ms Rudd said: “There are not enough women in politics. I’d like to see more, I’d like to see equality; equality in politics, equality in business, equality in all walks of life, so it’s a great celebration this week that women got the vote 100 years ago.

“Getting the vote meant that we got more MPs, getting MPs meant that we got women in Government.

“Only with women in Government do you get women’s lives properly considered.”

Her advice to women thinking about going into politics: “Go for it. Find a campaign you care about. Try out public engagement and if you find it captures your enthusiasm think about something bigger.

“I would say to them ‘don’t be put off by the criticism, because you always get criticised when you make public statements and put your head above the parapet’.”

When asked if Brexit is getting in the way of the day job, she said: “Brexit is important and does take up a fair amount of time, but we need to deliver on it and need to do it in a way that protects our communities and supports our values, so it’s right that we take the time to do so.

“It’s an important part of my job, but it’s not the only part and I’m absolutely determined to concentrate on what matters to me as well.”

And asked if she would like to be Prime Minister one day, she smiled and said: “I’m very happy being Home Secretary, thank you.”