The best help for victims is helping them avoid becoming a victim in the first place. This new ‘agenda’ signals greater focus and investment to intervene early and to prevent crime, anti-social behaviour or other issues before they happen. It means the police, local authorities and other agencies joining up better to tackle what causes crime, not just the effects of it.
I’m also encouraging, supporting and sometimes providing money for communities through the Commissioner’s People Power Fund to provide simple local solutions to deal with low level community safety issues.
But if someone does become a victim, it’s about treating them as an individual, not a statistic. It means simplifying and making it easier to use the myriad of services they find themselves involved with. The very services that are there to support them can be complex, fragmented and anything but user friendly. For example, people’s experience of the courts and criminal justice system can be as taxing and traumatic as the original incident, for both witnesses and victims.
In April 2015 Police and Crime Commissioners took over responsibility from Government nationally to provide support for victims. After a years work in advance of that, in Staffordshire, we launched the new Staffordshire Victim Gateway in August 2015 which provides faster and more tailored support for individuals and businesses who have suffered crime. Any crime, not just those crime types Whitehall thought were important! Huge credit to the consortium of Citizens Advice Bureax across Staffordshire who I commissioned to run the new service. Local not national... tailored not uniform support!
There’s much more to do but we’re well on the way to joining up the wider criminal justice services better from report through investigation to prosecution and into the Court process. I’m confident we are on the way for the first time ever to a service that fits the victim instead of victims having to fit the system.