Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has extended the contracts of the support services delivered to victims of crime in light of the global Coronavirus epidemic.
Jane Kennedy has moved to lengthen the contracts for ten charities and social enterprises which she commissions as part of the Victim Care Merseyside programme of support to provide specialist help for victims of crime, including victims of rape and sexual assault, young people who have been sexually or criminally exploited and victims of hate crime.
The contracts for all these services were due to come to an end in March 2021, but in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic and in light of local elections being postponed to May 2021, the Commissioner has taken the step to give certainty to the organisations providing the services and ensure greater stability and consistency for victims. All the services will now be commissioned to run until March 2022.
Jane said: "It is essential that victim support services can continue to operate and support some of the most vulnerable in our communities at this critical time, which is why I’ve moved quickly to extend the contracts of these 10 essential services, with the aim of relieving the pressure on the fantastic organisations delivering these services and the people they are helping.
"By taking this step now and extending the contracts until March 2022, I hope victims of crime will feel reassured that they will continue to be able to access the help, guidance and support they need to cope following a crime and move on to a path towards recovery.
"The lifetime of the previous contracts had been designed to ensure victim support services were in place until well after a new Police and Crime Commissioner was in post, following the local elections scheduled to take place this May, and give them enough time to come to their own informed decision about what services they wish to commission going forward.
"Now the election has been postponed until May 2021, I did not want to leave these services in a state of anxiety. I was keen to move quickly to give them greater security and give victims the confidence that the services they rely upon will continue to be there to support them.
"By extending the lifetime of these contracts until March 2022, I hope I will give the next Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside plenty of time, following the election, to carefully review the existing services, carry out their own assessment of what is needed, particularly given the changing nature of crime, and decide upon the services they wish to deliver in the future."
The extended Victim Care Merseyside services, which will now run until March 2022, include the:
Making the announcement, the Commissioner also sought to reassure victims of crime that support services continue to be available during the Coronavirus outbreak. Although most face-to-face support in people’s homes and community settings have had to be suspended in line with the current stringent public health regulations, advice lines and websites continue to operate as usual with Skype counselling also an option for those most in need.
Jane added: "This is a challenging time, but I want to reassure people that if you are a victim of a crime you are not alone. The Victim Care Merseyside services are still open and on hand to support you. Merseyside Police will support you. We are doing everything we can to ensure critical support and advice continues to be provided to those who need it most throughout this crisis.
"If you or someone you know has been a victim, you can find a wealth of free information and advice on the Victim Care Merseyside website. On this website, you can also find a directory of services who are on hand to offer further guidance and support. You can search these organisations by the type of crime you have experienced or by geographical area, so you can find the very best placed service to help you cope and recover from your experience."
If you need help or support after a crime, please visit www.victimcaremerseyside.org