PCC Sue Mountstevens with Karin Smyth MP for Bristol South at the Avon and Somerset Victim Services event
A pioneering service to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system has seen more than 25,000 people benefit from specialist advice and support over the past year within Avon and Somerset.
These tailored support services who look after the most vulnerable, intimidated or persistently targeted victims of crime and anti-social behaviour are provided by a new victim and witness care unit designed and delivered by Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens in partnership with Avon and Somerset Police.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: "Putting victims at the heart of everything we do has been a priority for me since day one. As a victim you are subject to an ordeal, through no fault of your own, which can result in life changing circumstances and memories you may struggle to forget.
"When a victim is vulnerable they need stability and support. Working together, side-by-side we can all be fierce advocates for victims – putting their needs first and helping them on the road to recovery, regaining control of their life and overcoming their traumatic experience."
On October 1, 2014 a new victim and witness care unit called ‘Lighthouse’ opened across three sites within Avon and Somerset with the aim of offering an enhanced service from the first point of contact with the police, through the investigation and on to the end of the criminal justice process.
Lighthouse Manager Sally Fox said: "Enabling a victim to get through their journey, to cope and recover, for me is the reason we do what we do. That’s why words like empathy, understanding, kindness and reassurance that we see in the letters we regularly receive thanking our staff for the level of support they’ve provided, highlight both the importance and need for this service."
One year on, Lighthouse has supported over 25,000 people, dealing with 200 people a day and offering a bespoke and enhanced support service for 52% of victims of crime and incidents within Avon and Somerset Police.
A victim supported by Lighthouse said: "I feel that people when they are a victim of crime feel very much alone and at a loss. I was approached by a member of the Lighthouse team and I was very grateful to speak to her. They not only make you feel empowered but the Lighthouse staff were there for me every step of the way.
"They arranged everything I could possibly need, but more importantly they have this amazing way of talking to you as if you matter and nothing is too much trouble for them. You can discuss any problem that you feel you have and you can approach them whenever you wish."
In April 2015 new support services were launched including independent sexual violence advisors, emotional support as well as an adult and young persons’ advocacy service and a modern slavery support service.
Sue Mountstevens continued: "It is only by offering these bespoke services can we truly be there for victims in their hour of need. I am proud of what has been achieved so far and know that by continuing to work together we will continue to deliver excellent services to support victims."
Yesterday evening, October 1, 2015, PCC Sue Mountstevens hosted an event to mark the one year anniversary of Lighthouse victim and witness care, as well as the six month milestone of the additional new support services for victims.
The PCC began the afternoon welcoming Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, to find out more about the one year pilot modern slavery support service as well as visiting the Bristol Lighthouse hub.
In the evening, Ms Mountstevens was joined by over 50 guests including local dignitaries and MPs to reflect on the achievements of the past year. During the evening’s presentations, guests also watched a video to find out more about the victim service providers and hear how the services are benefitting victims.
Watch a video about PCC Sue Mountstevens vision for victims and hear from support service providers here.
For more information about all of the PCC’s commissioned victim services visit the PCC’s website where you can also read about the services in our Victim Services booklet. For photos from the evening’s event visit our Flickr page here.
To find out more about Lighthouse integrated victim care visit www.lighthousevictimcare.org.uk
Posted on Friday 2nd October 2015