On June 8th, 2015, Merseyside’s Police Commissioner officially launched a new package of care and support for those affected by crime in Merseyside.
Jane Kennedy united with Merseyside Police and a host of regional charities to unveil Victim Care Merseyside, a specialist new support service which puts victims at the centre of the region’s police service and criminal justice system.
The service is designed to give victims the best possible help to cope and recover from the after effects of crime and ensure victims get enhanced support from the first moment they report a crime to Merseyside Police right through to greater emotional support and increased counselling and therapeutic services.
Included within the new Victim Care Merseyside package is a new victims’ referral system delivered by Merseyside Police which will ensure people affected by crime are directed straight to the best placed teams to support them and increase the number of face-to-face visits, while also reducing duplication and costs.
It also includes six key new support services providing additional care to some of the most vulnerable; and a dedicated new victims’ website Victim Care Merseyside.
Victim Care Merseyside is the result of a detailed six-month research and consultation exercise carried out by Jane Kennedy’s team, led by her Deputy and Victims Champion Cllr Ann O’Byrne, which reviewed the way victims are currently referred to care and evaluated the existing support to identify weaknesses or gaps in the service. At the centre of this process were the views of victims, with surveys and focus groups being held to gather their opinions.
This process highlighted the ways the existing victim care system could be fine-tuned to reduce costs, be streamlined to prevent victims being contacted by lots of different agencies and fill the gaps where vulnerable people were being left without support.
Launching Victim Care Merseyside at the Quaker Meeting House, Jane said: “When the government announced in 2013 that PCCs would become responsible for commissioning the services for referring and supporting victims in their region I saw it as a real opportunity to make changes and improve the way victims are cared for in Merseyside.
“We’ve completely reviewed what’s right for our communities in 2015 and come up with a fresh approach, rather than simply continuing with what already existed.
“Victim Care Merseyside puts those affected by crime right at the heart of our police service and ensures they get the best possible care through their journey, from the very first point of contact when they report a crime to Merseyside Police to the emotional and psychological counselling they may need to help rebuild their lives.
“We are building on the great care that is already out there for victims by delivering six new support services which will give some of the most vulnerable victim the extra help they need to become survivors and providing an independent, impartial website which will enable people to find and access the organisations that are best placed to help them.”
Victims' referal service
Through the new Victim Care Merseyside referral system, as soon as a victim reports a crime, Merseyside Police’s trained call handers will carry out a rapid vulnerability assessment, to identify their needs.
They will then use this information to direct the person straight to the dedicated teams who are best placed to help them. This ranges from the existing multi-agency safeguarding teams staffed by the police and a range of partner agencies for the most vulnerable victims, the Force’s specialist teams such as the anti-hate crime SIMGA unit, the sexual offences UNITY team or the Neighbourhood teams.
This replaces the previous referral process which saw a victim’s details being sent to an external agency.
By making these changes, the PCC has released funds to pay for five dedicated new risk assessors who will focus on ensuring the most vulnerable people get the protection and care they need and 12 new PCSOs who will strengthen the Neighbourhood teams and visit more victims.
These officers will then help victims get all the additional support they need, either by signposting them to external charities and organisations, arranging for on-going volunteer visits or providing crime prevention advice and tips.
Jane said: “By using the Force’s existing in-house support services, the Victim Care Merseyside referral process will provide a streamlined, joined-up and consistent service, operated by specially trained staff who are alert to issues of vulnerability and safeguarding.
“This will reduce costs and avoid duplication, giving victims a single point of contact and ensuring they are directed to the best placed agencies and teams to get the support they need and deserve.”
New support services
To enhance this service, Jane has also funded six new pan-Merseyside specialist support services, providing vital support to people affected by some of the most serious crimes.
Jane said: “Our research and mapping exercise highlighted some really worrying gaps in support for vulnerable people. In some cases, this was because the services just simply did not exist in Merseyside; in others the services were inconsistent – leaving some victims facing a postcode lottery of care.
“Ann and I were determined to plug these gaps and I am delighted we are now working in partnership with some fantastic local providers to deliver these services to victims across the whole of Merseyside.”
These services are:
- An entirely new support service for victims of Child Sexual Exploitation – provided by Catch 22
- A new serviced dedicated to supporting children and young people affected by Domestic Abuse - provided by Listening Ear
- Enhanced support for victims of Sexual Offences - jointly provided by RASA/RASASC
- Vulnerable victim support service provided by Victim Support
- A new Hate Crime Advocacy Service delivered by a consortium led by the Anthony Walker Foundation
- This service will be complemented by the pilot of a new pan-Merseyside support service for high-risk victims of Hate Crime & ASB - provided by Light for Life
Find out more about these services here
Victim Care Merseyside website
The final piece of the Victim Care Merseyside jigsaw is a dedicated new victims’ website www.VictimCareMerseyside.org which provides a one-stop shop of information and advice. The website enables users to search for organisations by crime type or geographical area or both, so they can directly access the best organisations to help them, whether they report it to the police or not.
Jane said: “Victim Care Merseyside is designed to enhance the quality, availability and accessibility of support services across Merseyside
“By taking this approach and investing in a whole range of new support services, we believe we can make a difference and really improve the lives of people affected by crime. Victims of crime must always be our priority and through Victim Care Merseyside I am making a public pledge to improve the care and support they receive.”