We’re plugging gap to bring succour to those 4,000 CHILD victims of crime
THE figures speak volumes – and now we aim to give a voice to an injustice which could truly be called ‘The Silence of the Lambs’.
For more than 4,100 children have been victims of crime in Staffordshire over the past 12 months – almost half of those suffering violence and a sixth facing sexual cruelty.
Now the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Staffordshire is launching a new dedicated counselling service for child victims of crime, as part of a radical re-think of existing arrangements.
As deputy police and crime commissioner I’m leading the sixth-month project after learning of a gap in the provision of therapeutic help for young victims of crime and the high numbers who could benefit from emotional support.
Our pilot scheme – Embrace Child Victims of Crime (CVOC) – will offer specialist support to those children most seriously affected by crime, with the first referrals already being made by Staffordshire police officers and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.
Mrs Arnold said: “It’s fantastic that this excellent scheme – which offers prolonged help to young victims – is being pioneered in Staffordshire which is why it’s being backed by funds from our budget.
“Certainly a child’s trust in the outside world can be shattered forever when they become a victim, often leaving them introverted, isolated, depressed and sometimes desperate.
“This will make a lasting difference to children and their families’ lives mending hearts, minds and families at a time when they need help the most.
“It is part of our ongoing work to make sure victims are at the heart of everything we do and are given the right support when they need it.”
Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said the effect crime had on children could be ‘devastating’.
“One of the most challenging incidents any member of Staffordshire Police can face is dealing with a child victim of crime,” he said.
“Every time they face this challenge, I see examples of exceptional work and officers taking personal responsibility for getting the very best outcome for the person affected.
“This service will continue to put the needs of these vulnerable victims at the heart of what we do.”
CVOC chief executive, Anne Campbell, said research showed specialist counselling for children traumatised by crime was ‘virtually non-existent’ and services available had long waiting lists with none prioritising young victims.
“Where counselling services were available, they were patchy and did not prioritise young victims of crime – we aim to provide a service which helps to plug this gap,” she said.
Embrace CVOC has worked with children for 20 years inviting police officer to nominate young victims of crime for a cheer-up gift, family breaks or trips to Disney parks
“Our family breaks and holidays prove hugely beneficial as children and adults have shared experiences and they open up to each other,” said Ms Campbell. “The addition of therapeutic support in the form of counselling is an important, valuable step forwards.
“We raised the issue with the PCC’s office and they have acted quickly to provide match-funding for our project.
“We look forward to working with them and developing a real understanding of the impact of crime on children and young people in the county.”
The project will be evaulated after six months.