Victims' Commissioner says work with vulnerable children is 'inspirational'
The Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales, Baroness Newlove, made a return visit to Wiltshire Police HQ today for an update on the progress of victim services commissioned by PCC Angus Macpherson.
The Baroness was briefed by Chief Constable Kier Pritchard and other senior officers about the wide range of work underway in Wiltshire and Swindon involving police and partner agencies to protect young people at risk of criminal exploitation.
She heard about police operations to rescue young people coerced into delivering drugs on behalf of so-called county lines gangs reaching out from their city bases to towns such as Swindon and Chippenham.
The Baroness was also briefed on two operations in the Force area to safeguard missing children who are at risk of sexual exploitation.
There was also discussion about support from volunteer mentors for young people at risk of becoming vulnerable victims.
The Baroness met members of the Horizon Victim and Witness Care team set up by the Police and Crime Commissioner in 2015. She had previously visited Devizes shortly after Horizon was launched to find out about its work.
Horizon offers phone support to victims from the moment they report a crime, through the criminal justice process and to the conclusion of their case. It provides a vital single point of contact to keep victims and witnesses up to date and provides signposting to other agencies.
By the time Horizon celebrated its third birthday in March, more than 11,000 vulnerable victims - including victims of sex offences, domestic violence, hate crime and other serious offences - had been offered the services of a relevant support agency.
Speaking at the end of her visit, Baroness Newlove said: "I was impressed at the way in which Wiltshire Police is collaborating with a range of partners to protect children and young people.
"The early intervention with children at risk of exploitation really chimed with my concerns. The passion displayed by the early intervention officers I met shone through and was inspiring. The efforts to tackle knife crime reflect well on everyone concerned.
"I was delighted to meet the Horizon team again. They are passionate about their work and I like the practical help they give to victims about travelling to court. I also like the information in the Horizon section of the Wiltshire Police website."
Angus Macpherson said: "When I stood for election as Commissioner I was determined to put the victims of crime centre stage, rather than waiting nervously in the wings for justice to be done.
"In 2014 I invited Baroness Newlove to speak at a Victims' Forum event in Salisbury. So it was very good to welcome her back to Wiltshire today to see how our care of victims has progressed.
"We work hard to comply with the Victims' Code of Practice which she helped to create and it is very helpful to us to know how we compare with other Force areas.
"I chair the Wiltshire Criminal Justice Board and sit on the Health and Wellbeing Boards in Wiltshire and Swindon and that gives me an excellent insight into a wide spectrum of vulnerability.
"The Baroness is ensuring that the voice of victims is heard loud and clear at government level."
Kier Pritchard said: "It was an honour and privilege to welcome Baroness Newlove to Wiltshire Police today alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson.
"It is so important that we always put victims at the heart of everything we do, and with the help of support services such as our Horizon team; ensure we provide the best possible service to all victims and witnesses".