Barry Coppinger speaking at the launch of the Victim Care and Advice Service.
A free, confidential and independent service for victims had its official launch in Darlington today (Friday 11th November).
The Victim Care and Advice Service is commissioned by Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger and Ron Hogg, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington.
The service has supported around 800 people from Cleveland between April and September and ensures every victim has a case worker who provides them with access to the best support available to them, from a range of public and voluntary sector organisations.
Most people who are victims have never been in that position before and find that sympathetic, personalised support is vital to them as they work their way through the criminal justice system.
The launch heard from a number of case studies who've had access to the service since April.
16-year-old Lucy* was was performing well at school when she was violently assaulted in the school yard by three other pupils.
Her ability to concentrate was affected, she was frightened to attend school, she suffered panic attacks, feared re-victimisation and lacked confidence in her ability to sit her exams.
She was supported by VCAS face to face and over the phone, and was given a personal alarm to make her feel more safe at school.
She was given extra support at school during exam time and was referred on to specialist services.
Speaking of her involvement with VCAS, Lucy* said: “VCAS helped and supported me through a difficult time, you made a difference in my life that I will always remember”
The launch was also attended by Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Newlove, who gave an emotional plea to support victims of crime. Her husband Garry was murdered by a gang of youths in 2007.
Baroness Newlove said “The criminal justice system is bureaucratic and process-driven and sometimes forgets that police interview rooms and court rooms can be frightening and intimidating places for victims. I want to see victims of crime receiving the support and advice they need - at whatever stage of the criminal justice process.
“A coordinated and flexible service for victims is something that is very close to my heart; the Victim Care and Advice Service allows criminal justice agencies to work together, with the interests of victims in mind.”
Barry Coppinger said “Ensuring a better deal for victims is an integral part of my new Police and Crime Plan. The official launch of the Victim Care and Advice Service reaffirms my on-going commitment to ensure victims receive a service that meets their individual needs and ensures victims don’t suffer in silence”.
Ron Hogg said “Victims don’t ask to be victims. For the vast majority of them the experience is completely unexpected. That’s why I have made ‘support for victims and vulnerable people’ one of the central aims of my new Police, Crime and Victim’s Plan. I am commissioning new advocacy services for victims of hate crime, and victims with mental health problems.”
You can visit the Victim Care and Advice Service website HERE or call 0303 0401 099.
View the VCAS Launch Presentation here.
Posted on Friday 11th November 2016