Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has announced new plans to bring support services for victims of crime ‘in-house’ to improve the care provided.
The County Durham and Darlington PCC has undertaken a review of current provision which has recognised the need for a smoother referral process offering victims of crime a ‘single front door’ where they can access recovery services swiftly and simply.
The new model will see the current provider, Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS), delivering support under the management of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), enabling Commissioner Allen to provide better oversight of the system and promote closer working relationships between partners and Durham Constabulary.
A pilot with VCAS has been underway since April 2020 which has helped reduce the number of inappropriate referrals received, developed more productive working relationships with police officers and other agencies and improved the effectiveness of services.
Following a recent review, Commissioner Allen decided to bring the victim referral service in-house to deliver a more streamlined service that will benefit future victims.
Announcing the new-look service, she said: “Victims of crime are at the centre of everything I do as Commissioner and I have made it clear I will spare no effort in ensuring their needs are met.
“This is why I appointed a Victims’ Champion, Michael Banks. We are working together to strengthen and enhance the services provided to victims.
“We recognise that one size does not fit all and this move will build additional resilience to the team.
“Safeguarding victims of crime is a top priority and I am working hard on my Police and Crime Plan pledge to deliver a full range of high-quality specialist services to help victims recover from the impact of crime.
“It is vital victims and witnesses continue to have trust and confidence in the support we offer and remain engaged throughout their justice journey for long-term recovery and to encourage future victims to come forward.
“I believe bringing these services under my watch will help us to develop uniformity across our provision and maximise opportunities for evaluation and scrutiny to ensure we continue to deliver the very best service possible.”
Victims Champion, Michael Banks added: “This new model will deliver care in a way that works for victims, offering single points of contact to remove confusion and ensuring support is delivered seamlessly, even when that support involves more than one provider.”
VCAS Manager Mark Warcup welcomed the move, saying: “Working with the Commissioner’s office will give us the opportunity to build on what we have achieved over the last few years.
“We are all committed to the provision of an outstanding service to support victims and witnesses of crime to cope and recover from their experience.
“We want them to move forward with their lives and if we can help that happen, we will.”
The service will see a team of fully trained staff and volunteers providing information and support to all victims and witnesses of crime from point of report through to investigation, charging and conclusion and beyond where appropriate.
Referrals will be acted on irrespective of a crime being reported to the police or not.