Merseyside's Police Commissioner is marking the start of a UN anti-violence campaign by announcing her plans to further improve the care for vulnerable victims of crime across Merseyside.
Jane Kennedy officially launched the Victim Care Merseyside service in 2015 after powers to commission victim support services were passed to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
As Victim Care Merseyside approaches its third anniversary, the Commissioner has conducted a comprehensive research programme reviewing the existing service and assessing how the needs of victims across the region may have changed and developed since the service was first established.
In light of that review, the Commissioner has today announced her plans to further improve and expand upon the existing package of care and support from 2018 onwards to ensure she delivers the best support for vulnerable victims of crime in Merseyside. Jane’s proposals build on the services that have been running over the last three years and aim to plug any gaps in the service.
Key improvements to the existing service include:
· Increasing the funding provided to the region’s five local authorities to provide support for families and young people affected by domestic abuse or violence;
· More funding for the Vulnerable Victims’ Champion service to ensure it can also provide support for victims of ASB, cyber-crime and fraud;
· An enhanced service supporting victims of rape and sexual assault across Merseyside;
· Nearly doubling the funding provided to support victims of hate crime;
· A dedicated new service offering support to those affected by harmful practices, including forced marriage, so-called ‘honour-based’ violence and female genital mutilation;
· A dedicated support service for families who have been affected by murder and manslaughter, including crime-related, fatal road traffic collisions.
The strategy also confirms Jane’s commitment to maintaining a number of essential Victim Care Merseyside services, running since 2015, including a dedicated service for victims of all forms of child exploitation, a pan-Merseyside restorative justice helping victims to get answers from their offenders, and an independent reporting line for hate crime.
To increase the consistency of these services for victims, the Commissioner has also pledged to commission all the service for the next three years, from 2018 to 2021.
Jane said: “These are still early days for the commissioning of local services for the victims of crime. Nobody chooses to be a victim, and when someone does suffer at the hands of others it is only right that they get the support to help them cope and recover.
“The aim of Victim Care Merseyside is to ensure victims get that support. That’s why I took the decision, as we approach the third anniversary of the service, to take stock, review what’s working and where we can, improve, to make sure we are delivering the best possible services.
“The nature of crime is also constantly evolving and that means we have to adapt and update our services to ensure they are meeting the needs of victims today.
“As we approach International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I am delighted to announce my proposals for how I can continue to improve the Victim Care Merseyside, service offering more support for more victims.
“I am particularly proud that we were one of the first areas in the country to offer support for victims of child criminal exploitation, and I have taken the decision to expand on this forward-looking approach to offer a new service supporting victims of harmful practices and a dedicated service for families who have been affected by the most horrific of crimes, murder and manslaughter.
“I am also expanding some of the existing services, including our provision for domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault, and hate crime so those services can reach more vulnerable people.
“All of the decisions I’ve taken to improve the Victim Care Merseyside service are based on detailed evidence, compiled as part of a Victim Needs Assessment.
“This important document provides a really comprehensive overview what victims need and deserve and I’m very proud of the time, energy and commitment that has gone into ensuring Victim Care Merseyside delivers the right support for victims of crime over the next three years.
The Victim Needs Assessment was carried out between May and October and incorporated extensive reviews of the crime data, a ‘what works’ literature review, a victim service mapping exercise and feedback sessions with service providers.
“Crucially it also involved extensive consultation with victims of crime, including an online survey, focus groups and one-to-one interviews.
“A special workshop was also held with nearly 40 support organisations with the aim of identifying ‘hidden’ crimes that may still be going on undetected and out of sight.
Following today’s announcement, the Commissioner will be inviting organisations to apply to deliver these services. The application process will be published in early December 2017.
A dedicated commissioning event will also be held to help organisations understand how the bidding process will work.
Applications will be then be put through a competitive selection process, by way of a panel, before the successful organisations are notified.
If you have been affected by crime and need information, help or support, please visit www.victimcaremerseyside.org