Posted: Monday 2nd March 2015
Marc Hole oversees the commissioning of services for Sue Mountstevens’ office. Ahead of the launch of new victim services in April, Marc has written a guest blog explaining what commissioning actually means and where we are with putting in place support for victims in Avon and Somerset.
Over the last year the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has been working hard to put in place local support services for victims of crime following a change in policy by the Ministry of Justice to provide funding to Police and Crime Commissioners to put in place local services.
Direction from Sue was clear from the start – she wanted to take a fresh look at victim services, simplify the process and maximise the opportunity to design services to meet local need. Crucially, she was clear that victims of ASB should be entitled to the same support as victims of crime (even though we weren’t getting funding for this). At the same time, the Ministry of Justice stated that support services commissioned by PCCs should help victims to both ‘cope’ and ‘recover’ (more on that later). With this steer the team set about working to put these services in place.
In February 2014, having looked at the existing service provision, listened to the views of victims and undertaken a needs assessment we set out our commissioning intentions. This marked the start of an important four month period for the commissioning team – consultation with partners and stakeholders. A key principle of this project is that we simply don’t hold funding to be able to commission all support services for victims. This meant consultation with providers, partners and key groups such as Community Safety Partnerships was crucial to make best use of our limited resources and align with existing provision. This feedback was invaluable and shaped our final commissioning plan.
Once we knew what services we wanted, we started the procurement process. We wanted to make our process accessible to the Voluntary and Community Sector so we procured the services in different ways, depending on the value. After engaging with the market we received a number of impressive submissions for the evaluation panels to consider. These panels included police staff and officers as well as partner agencies which meant that we were able to consider the proposals from a variety of viewpoints. Following this process we awarded the grants and contracts in December 2014.
We have a great range of providers on board, all of whom are excited to be part of this new way of working and are busy getting ready for services to commence on April 1, 2015.
However, the work for us won’t stop in April – as mentioned earlier, a key part of this is how we measure the impact that services have had on helping victims cope with what’s happened to them, and start to recover. As commissioners we are focussed on these victim outcomes and are working through how to monitor that across our services.
Meanwhile, we have also been working with the Constabulary on the implementation of Lighthouse, the cornerstone of our integrated victims strategy – it’s been a busy year. Victims of crime and ASB have repeatedly told us that they often have multiple contacts from criminal justice agencies and as a result can be left feeling ill-informed and unsupported. Lighthouse aims to address these issues by providing regular updates, a named contact person, time to talk and referral on to more specialist support services if required. Early signs from the feedback provided about the service have been encouragingly positive.
Head of Commissioning