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Enhancing support for victims from April 2015


Victims of crime and anti-social behaviour will benefit from enhanced help and support with newly commissioned services beginning from April 2015.

Amongst the services will be new, enhanced support for victims of modern slavery and children and young people. The range of new services will work alongside the recently launched Lighthouse integrated victim care teams.

In October 2014, the Ministry of Justice transferred responsibility for commissioning local victim services in Avon and Somerset to Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens. To prepare for this, Sue Mountstevens’ commissioning team began consulting with victims, partners and service providers to explore what services people wanted and identify gaps in current provision. A commissioning plan was developed and organisations were able to bid to provide the services. The successful providers have been selected and will begin delivering services in April 2015.

Speaking about the new services, Sue Mountstevens said: “Responsibility for commissioning local services was passed to Police and Crime Commissioners because the Ministry of Justice wanted services for victims to be tailored according to local need.

“We’ve used this opportunity to speak to victims in our area, as well as organisations who work with victims, to find out what people in our communities need. We’ve started from scratch to review what’s right for our communities in 2015 and come up with a fresh approach, rather than simply continuing with what already existed. I’m really excited about the new services and am confident that they will help those people who unfortunately experience crime and anti-social behaviour.”

The newly commissioned services are:

Lighthouse – provided by Avon and Somerset Police

As part of the Integrated Victims Strategy, Sue Mountstevens has commissioned Avon and Somerset Constabulary to develop and implement ‘Lighthouse’ Integrated Victim and Witness Care teams. These teams have brought together victim contact roles in the Police service, co-located with partners, to provide a more coordinated end-to-end care for victims of crime and ASB.  ‘Lighthouse’ guides victims through their journey from first point of contact with the police, through the investigation and on to the end of the criminal justice process. The aim of Lighthouse is to provide greater ownership of the whole journey of a victim, reducing handovers and providing a ‘single point of contact’ approach, and radically simplifying the process for victims.

Emotional Support Service – provided by Victim Support

The Emotional Support Service will offer support according to individual need – including both support in person and over the phone. The support could include listening and providing advice, facilitating emergency grants or signposting victims to more specialist support services. The support will be available to all victims of crime and anti-social behaviour, irrespective of whether they have reported the incident to the police, and prioritised in accordance with the Victims Code of Practice. 

Adults Advocacy Service – provided by The Care Forum

This advocacy service will ensure that vulnerable victims of crime and anti-social behaviour are listened to, given a voice in the criminal justice system and given emotional or practical support. This will help them feel empowered, increase their understanding of, and confidence in, the criminal justice system,  by keeping them informed and making sure they are safe and feel safe.

Some of the reasons why additional support may be required include physical or mental health, learning difficulties, old age, social exclusion or isolation or because of their cultural background, race, religion or sexuality.

This advocacy service will be provided by Care Forum working with SEAP and Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI).

Young Persons’ Advocacy Service – provided by North Somerset Youth Offending Team

This advocacy service will provide support for young people up to the ages of 18 and those between 18-25 where additional needs are identified. Through the provision of emotional and practical support the service will help young victims re-integrate and lead more fulfilled lives, where they feel secure and supported in their home and community. Where a young person chooses to engage with the criminal justice system they will be supported in doing so with a view to improving their overall understanding and experience, in circumstances where they may have otherwise felt unable to navigate, feel excluded or are overwhelmed by the process.

Independent Sexual Violence Advisors – provided by SafeLink

Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs) provide an essential service to victims of sexual violence and help them cope with, and start to recover from, their experience. The advisors can help victims get to a place of safety, help them access specialist services, talk to employers, and support and guide them through the criminal justice process. The independent service is available to men, women and children regardless of whether or not they report it to the police.

ISVAs already work throughout the area providing an essential service and re-commissioning this service has given the PCC the opportunity to increase funding to better meet the number of people reporting to agencies for support.

Modern Slavery Support Service – provided by Unseen UK

During the commissioning process it was clear that there are gaps in the provision of support for victims of modern slavery – particularly around initial engagement with victims before they can access other available support, and after that support has ended. This is a one-year pilot to further explore how best these needs can be met in Avon and Somerset.

PCC Sue Mountstevens added: “I’m pleased to have these providers on board and am confident these newly commissioned services will be a positive step forward. They are of course just one suite of services complimenting other services already available from many external organisations, as well as local projects funded through the Community Safety Grant and Commissioners’ Community Action Fund. PCCs alone don’t commission all services for victims and we need to working together to keep putting victims first and ensuring they feel supported.”

We’ll be telling you more about each service in the run-up to April but in the meantime you can find out more about how the services were commissioned here.

Posted on Monday 19th January 2015
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