One of the key priorities in my Police and Crime Plan 2015-17 is to “put victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do”. Since April 2015 I have been responsible for commissioning services for victims of crime in Wiltshire and Swindon. Before then the commissioning of such services was the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice. I spent time talking to local victims, providers and partners about what was needed. The cornerstone of the new approach was the commissioning of Horizon Victim and Witness Care. I have also commissioned services for the public from Victim Support, You can find more information by clicking the links in the text below or via the menu on the left hand side of this page.
Horizon is an integrated victim and witness care service. Support workers, based at police headquarters in Devizes, contact victims who are vulnerable, feel intimidated, have been persistently targeted or are victims of serious crime as defined under the Victim Code of Practice 2015. The Horizon officer remains a single point of contact for that victim on their journey through the criminal justice system, keeping them updated and referring them on to support services if required. All other victims of personal crime receive a letter from Horizon outlining the support that is available to them.
I also commission the charity Victim Support to offer practical and emotional support to victims of crime, Victim Support can visit people in their homes, draw up support plans with victims and offer advice to help them cope with, and recover from their experiences. Victim Support is also available to victims of crime who do not wish to report a crime or have any contact with the police. Victims of anti-social behaviour can receive support if they are referred by our council partners in Wiltshire and Swindon.
I have recognised that there are some crimes which people experience which require more specialist services, including for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. I have worked with Swindon and Wiltshire councils and voluntary sector organisations to enhance support for these victims.
This is a two year project funded by the Wiltshire and Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioners and the local authorities for those areas, and match funded by the Home Office Policing Innovation Fund. It aims to further improve local responses to CSE and lay the foundations for a sustainable and effective range of CSE services into the future.
The PCC is funding a project through the charity Missing People to offer return home interviews to young people who are reported missing to Wiltshire Police.
Restorative Justice offers victims a chance to meet or communicate with their offender to explain the impact of the crime. The Victim Code of Practice 2015 states that victims of crime are entitled to receive information about RJ and, where appropriate, be offered an opportunity to take part in RJ. Both the victim and the offender need to agree for the contact to take place. Victims who have taken part in RJ are very positive about the experience, reporting that it has helped them deal with what happened and move on with their lives.
More details of organisations who support victims in Wiltshire and Swindon can be found here.