Time to treat crime victims as ‘people not numbers’
SUPPORT services for victims of crime in Staffordshire are heading for the biggest shake-up in a generation – if I get my way.
As Staffordshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner, I’m overseeing wide-ranging proposals for a massive overhaul of the system’s infrastructure.
And top of my agenda in putting the victim first in every scenario through a single ‘gateway to haven’ where one agency, and not the police, take on the responsibility of providing a clearly mapped out route to support.
Victims need a first port-of-call umbrella organisation to provide comfort, restore confidence and guarantee total protection before, during and after any potential litigation process.
My research indicates victims are often unsure of which organisation to contact. They should have a single point of contact. My fact-finding mission has really opened my eyes to fresh opportunities to provide services to victims.
Around 36 agencies currently provide victim support services in the county. That’s too fragmented and victims would get better care if we joined-up services and streamlined the way they work.
Since taking up my role in December, I’ve engaged with support agencies across the county who provide services to victims, including the voluntary sector.
From April next year, funding of £3.6million for victim support services in Staffordshire will, for the first time, be allocated to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner instead of directly to services.
By bringing services together we could improve victim care by sharing resources and expertise and deliver better value by spending money more wisely.
This would see far better information sharing and technology use with information available at any time through a single gateway to support and reassure victims.
More work needs to be done urgently to improve the way victims are updated about the progress or otherwise of investigations so that they feel more informed.
The Office is working with Staffordshire Police to develop an online tracking system to improve victims’ access to updates and information they need. This is due to be rolled out in the autumn of this year.
The new Police and Crime Plan for Staffordshire, set to be published by the OPCC for public and wider consultation next month, will drive forward a new, joined-up victim strategy.
It will give victims a much greater voice in the service they receive from criminal justice agencies in Staffordshire. We need to put them first in all that we do, treating them as people not as a crime number.
I’m also working with Staffordshire Police to develop an online tracking system to improve victims’ access to updates and information they need.
This is due to be rolled out in the autumn of this year.