Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Ellis, has said support services in Staffordshire need a radical re-think to put victims first.
Commissioner Ellis has asked his deputy, Sue Arnold, to review and reform existing services “so that crime victims are treated as people, not crime numbers.”
Commissioner Ellis said, “I want criminal justice agencies working better for victims by improving the complicated ‘system’ and making sure it’s effective and more joined up”.
Since taking up her role in December, Deputy Commissioner Sue Arnold has engaged with support agencies across the county who provide services to victims, including the voluntary sector. And top of her agenda is putting the victim first in every scenario through a single gateway where one, joined-up agency, and not the police, take on the responsibility for providing a clearly mapped out support route.
Deputy Commissioner Arnold said, “Victims need a single port-of-call to provide comfort, confidence and guarantee total protection before, during and after any potential litigation process.
“My research indicates victims are often unsure of which organisation to contact. They should have a single point of contact.”
Mrs Arnold, who says her fact-finding has really opened her eyes to fresh opportunities to provide services to victims, added, “There are a minimum of 29 agencies that currently provide victim support services in the county. That’s too fragmented and victims would get better care if we joined-up services and streamlined the way they work.
“More work needs to be done urgently to improve the way victims are updated about the progress or otherwise of investigations so that they feel more informed. I’m currently working with Staffordshire Police to develop an online tracking system to improve victims’ access to updates and information they need. This is due to be rolled out in the autumn of this year.
“The new Police and Crime Plan for Staffordshire, set to be published by Commissioner Ellis for public and wider consultation next month, will drive forward a new, joined up victim strategy. It will give victims a much greater voice in the service they receive from criminal justice agencies in Staffordshire. We need to put them first in all that we do, treating them as people not as a crime number.”
From April next year, funding for victim support services in Staffordshire will, for the first time, be allocated to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner instead of directly to services.