The best thing for victims of crime is not to be a victim in the first place but in reality there will sadly always be victims one way or another so it’s crucial they are better supported in a very personal way that suits their needs and particular situation.
The Ministry of Justice in Whitehall used to buy support for victims for the whole country but in April 2015 it became the legal responsibility of each Police and Crime Commissioner to provide whatever service they decide is best to support victims in their local area. Bespoke rather than one size fits all… very welcome indeed.
Whilst most PCCs appear to have stayed with the national approach we’ve taken a different approach by commissioning our local Citizen Advice Bureaux across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to provide a new Victim Gateway.
They know our area and have a passion for its people. Six months in it has resulted in faster support and an individually tailored service that is better suited to individual needs and circumstances. And in Staffordshire any crime or harm qualifies for help not just those deemed important by Whitehall. It means there’s the ability for anyone to self-refer rather than only being referred through formal channels.
It’s working well and more is being achieved but with the same amount of money as before.
We’ve also established a specialist service for victims of business crime. Small businesses particularly can be hard hit after crime and having fast and practical help can be invaluable when your livelihood is put at risk. It is early days for this but it’s already making a difference supporting, particularly small businesses, through a personally challenging time and helped to get them on the road to recovery.
Given the chance after May 5th I want to go all out to get victim support services which are properly joined up across the whole criminal justice process. Whilst it’s better than it was, victims or witnesses still find the support they receive as they go through the criminal justice process is provided by different people from different organisations.
As much consistency in the people offering support from start to finish and building a relationship with those people supporting has been shown to be important. That’s the ambition and with the devolution agenda for criminal justice I’m pushing hard nationally I’m confident we have a chance of achieving that consistency and better start to finish support.