Service stops 'one negative experience turning into another'
Wiltshire and Swindon's Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson has commissioned an innovative service providing bespoke support to young victims of crime.
The Young Victims of Crime Service (YVC) provides young victims of crime age-appropriate support in the form of coaching, family counselling, group activities like mountain biking and the opportunity to become peer mentors and join the young victims of crime forum.
Angus Macpherson said: "By enabling young people to positively come to terms with what has happened and support them in moving past it, YVC helps to address the gap in support that can see some young victims of crime later become offenders themselves."
Launched in April 2019, the young victims of crime service is run by Community First, a Wiltshire based charity on behalf of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
In the past six months more than 200 young people have benefitted from the service and the Commissioner has made an initial commitment of £104k a year for the programme from the Ministry of Justice grant for victim services.
Community First had previously been running a programme named Splash for young people 'facing challenges in their lives' and this additional funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner means that young victims of crime can receive personalised support according to their needs and access the service through a dedicated victim referral route.
Through the programme, young victims are also supported through a restorative justice process if appropriate where a two-way conversation is facilitated with the offender to enable the victim to talk about the impact of the crime committed against them.
Splash programme coordinator, Dawn Whiting said:"The launch of the programme has been a very exciting and busy time for the Splash team. We have welcomed three new members of staff to the team who have all settled in well and made real progress with our first cohort of young victim referrals.
"Working either on a 1:1 basis or on our group activities and aiding their development of confidence and self-esteem as well as facilitating positive friendship developments has been key to enabling those on the programme to cope and recover from their experience of crime and has been really enjoyable, productive and inspiring for the whole Splash team."
Each young person on the programme have a dedicated youth support worker to support and encourage them and a bespoke plan designed by the young person alongside their support worker identifying the help they would like to receive.
Angus added: "Victims and witnesses must be at the heart of everything we do, and it was clear that a one-size-fits-all approach wasn't the best way to support some of the most vulnerable victims. This programme helps them recover from the crime committed against them, regain their self-confidence and stops one negative experience from turning into another.
"It's so important to me that our young people are given the very best opportunities and early intervention and support programmes such as these play a key role in helping them make good decisions and help prevent them from engaging in criminal activity or being exploited later on."