Victims are at the heart of Jane priorities
Since taking office, Jane has invested considerable time and effort in gaining a better understanding of the needs of those affected by crime.
In May 2014, she appointed Cllr Ann O'Byrne to act as her Deputy and Victims' Champion. Ann was appointed with the specific aim of concentrating on new responsibilities given to Commissioners to commission vital support services for victims of crime.
These new responsibilities were announced in autumn 2013, when the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) outlined its proposals to expand the remit of Police Commissioners around the country to include a wider range of victims’ support services.
The MoJ initially indicated that from March 2015 to March 2016, this would carry a budget of around £1.175m for Merseyside and include the delivery of some services for victims of sexual offences, domestic violence and those affected by anti-social behaviour and hate crime.
Read more about these Commissioning responsibilities.
The MoJ later confirmed that a total sum of £1.546m would be provided for for the commissioning of victims' services on Merseyside for 2015/16.
What did this mean for the people of Merseyside?
For many years, if you had been a victim of crime here on Merseyside your details would be provided to Victim Support and they would refer you to the right places for support and advice. That service was funded by the Ministry of Justice.
Since April 1st 2015, this has no longer been the case.
Instead local Police and Crime Commissioners, who have listened to the needs of victims in their region, now have responsibility for deciding how how resources should be best used in their area to ensure that victims’ services match those needs.
This means it is Jane who now commissions and monitors the vital support services offered to those people whose homes have been broken into, those people who have been attacked or intimidated and those people who have been subjected to racial abuse.
Jane said: "This was a hugely significant piece of work which represented an enormous shift in the way that victims’ services are delivered. Victims of crime rely on vital support services to help them to recover from what can often be a traumatic event.
“I wanted victims to know that, here on Merseyside, you will always be listened to, understood and supported.”
Putting Victims First
Jane is committed to ensuring people who may be at an incredibly vulnerable time in their lives are given the best possible support.
When she took over the commissioning of many victim support services, she made a public commitment about how she intended to approach this major new responsibility.
Putting Victims' First was released in August 2014 and detailed her aims and objectives for commissioning victims’ services for the people of Merseyside during 2014/15 and explained the preparations being undertaken for 2015/16.
In August 2014, the then Deputy PCC, Ann O'Byrne, launched a public consultation to listen to the views of victims in order to help identify which support services were working well and where more support might be needed. This consultation involved an online survey, focus groups with victims and one-to-one sessions with service providers. The results of this survey are now being compiled and will be released shortly.
The results of this work were used to shape the services that are now being provided for victims and helped to determine the commissioning approach and model Jane and Ann put into place in relation to Victims' Services.
Find out more about the Victims Research Programme 2014/15
Victims' Services & Restorative Justice Fund 2014/15
In November 2014, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner launched a new fund to support the development of victims’ services and/or Restorative Justice schemes across Merseyside.
The fund provided an extra £175,000 of funding to help victims cope and recover and £100,000 to expand and improve restorative justice initiatives in the region.
Ann O'Byrne invited applications from victims’ charities, voluntary organisations and service providers for grants of between £5,000 and £25,000 and the bids were assessed to see which would provide the best support for victims.
The fund was designed specifically to improve and expand services for 2014/15 with a view to the shift in commissioning responsibilities and the services Jane and Ann were considering funding for 2015/16.
Find out more about this fund and the successful organisations here.
Victims' Services 2015/16
In March 2015 following the extensive Victims' Research Programme, Ann announced five key new support services providing enhanced and specialist care to victims of crime would start work in Merseyside on April 1st, 2015.
These services were designed to address the gaps, revealed through the research programme, in the services that existed on Merseyside and deliver a new approach to supporting victims.
Amongst the service is a new pan-Merseyside Child Sexual Exploitation service offering a complete package of care from prevention right through to counselling and an improved service to victims of sexual offences.
Ann said: “The Ministry of Justice passed responsibility for the commissioning of local support services to Police and Crime Commissioners because they wanted services to be tailored according to local need.
“We used this opportunity to speak to victims across the region, as well as organisations who work with victims and our partners, to find out what people in our communities need."
Find out more about the newly commissioned Victims' Services for 2015/16.
Restorative Justice & Anti-Social Behaviour Reforms
As part of Ann's role as Victims Champion, she also took responsibility for increasing the use of restorative justice in the region and the introduction of new anti-social behaviour powers that came into force on October 20th, 2014.
Restorative justice brings together people harmed by crime or conflict with those responsible for the harm, to find a positive way forward. Find out how more about the benefits and how it works on our Restorative Justice page.
As part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, new powers have been introduced which shape the way the police, local authorities, health partners and social housing providers respond to anti-social behaviour (ASB).
The reforms are designed to empower victims of ASB and give them a say on how perpetrators are punished.
Of particular significance were new powers for victims of ASB and hate crime to demand action if they are unsatisfied with how their case is handled, beginning with a case review, known as the Community Trigger.
Police and Crime Commissioners will also be responsible for providing a list of punishments for victims to choose from. This list will be known as the Community Remedy.
Responsibility for these new powers now sits with Deputy Commissioner Cllr Sue Murphy.