Merseyside’s Police Commissioner is today pledging to improve the care & support given to victims as she launches a new specialist service dedicated to those affected by crime in conjunction with Merseyside Police and a host of regional charities.

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE POLICE COMMISSIONER FOR MERSEYSIDE

** MEDIA OPPORTUNITY **

WHEN:             9.30am on Monday June 8th, 2015

WHERE:           The Quaker Meeting House, 22 School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BT.

WHAT:              Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy and Merseyside Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Andy Ward will be available for interview at the official launch of the Victim Care Merseyside service.

PCC launches new Victim Care Merseyside service

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner is today pledging to improve the care and support given to victims as she launches a new specialist service dedicated to those affected by crime.

Jane Kennedy has united with Merseyside Police and a host of regional charities, including The Michael Causer Foundation to unveil Victim Care Merseyside, a new package of care and support 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 www.VictimCareMerseyside.org which features a host of service providers, including The Michael Causer Foundation.

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 today, 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.”

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.”

Merseyside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Ward said: “Every police officer who joins the police service should want to put the needs of victims first, whether that is catching the perpetrator of a crime against them or helping that victim get the support they need.

“There has always been a great deal of support out there for victims but what was offered and by whom has varied depending where in Merseyside that person lived.

“Now, thanks to our work with the Police and Crime Commissioner, the new Victim Care Merseyside service will pull together the key support agencies for some of the most serious types of crime there are so that everyone in Merseyside can access them.

“So if you are a victim of domestic abuse in Wirral, you will helped by the police to access the same support service as a victim in Sefton, Liverpool, Knowsley or St Helens.

“To do this, we have given our call handlers more training so they are better able to assess just how vulnerable or at risk a person reporting a crime to them is.

“The Commissioner is also funding five new risk assessors who will ensure that these most vulnerable callers to the police are identified and treated as a priority straight away.

“Rather than them then being referred to a general purpose victim support service, specialist officers will be alerted to the case and will make direct contact with them so that, for example, a victim of a hate crime is referred quickly to a hate crime detective who will have direct links in with a hate crime support service like the Anthony Walker Foundation.

“We will also aim to provide the most vulnerable victims with more readily available face to face contact with the police. The twelve new PCSOs being funded will allow us to carry out more home visits where officers will be able to get to know, for example, an elderly repeat victim of burglary or ASB, and build a rapport so they can then discuss what help they might need and where they can get it from.

“This streamlined, centralised, joined-up approach will mean victims of crime are put first in practice, not just in principal. They will get access to support more quickly, the support will be right for them, and they will be better equipped to deal with the impact of that crime on them, with our help.”

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:

  1. An entirely new support service for victims of Child Sexual Exploitation – provided by Catch 22
  2. A new serviced dedicated to supporting children and young people affected by Domestic Abuse – provided by Listening Ear
  3. Enhanced support for victims of Sexual Offences – jointly provided by RASA/RASASC
  4. Vulnerable victim support service provided by Victim Support
  5. A new Hate Crime Advocacy Service delivered by a consortium led by the Anthony Walker Foundation
  6. 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

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, including The Michael Causer Foundation.

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.”

Ends

Notes to Editors

Jane Kennedy was elected as Merseyside’s first Police and Crime Commissioner on November 15, 2012, taking office a week later. In May 2014, she appointed Cllr Ann O’Byrne to act as her Deputy and Victims’ Champion. The Commissioners are responsible for holding the Chief Constable and Merseyside Police to account and overseeing an effective and efficient police service.

Jane was previously an MP for Merseyside for 20 years and a Government Minister between 1997 and 2010, serving in six different departments. This included being Minister of State for Health, Minister for Labour, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and becoming Britain’s first woman Security Minister with responsibility for Policing in Northern Ireland.

Press Enquiries

For more information contact:

Chloe Griffiths, Press Secretary to the Police Commissioner: chloe.n.griffiths@merseysidepcc.info

(0151) 777 5193        

07703108797

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