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I helped establish the local Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS). Delivered by Safe in Tees Valley, VCAS was co-commissioned with Durham PCC Ron Hogg and launched in April 2015, replacing a nationally commissioned service. The service provides free, confidential support to victims of crime and anti-social behaviour across Cleveland. Every year VCAS has consistently supported over 1,400 victims providing one-to-one support, with many thousands more receiving telephone advice and support.
I assisted in moving sexual violence services in Cleveland from a model of multiple providers, to an efficient commissioned service providing consistency across the whole of the Cleveland area. The process involved a collaborative commissioning approach between myself and NHS England, integrating the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) to include management and crisis support, in addition to a Tees-wide Independent Sexual Violence Advisor Service. The development of this work was shortlisted at the GO Procurement Awards 2018/19 under the category Innovation/Initiative of the Year Award. The SARC provides a 24/7 service for victims of sexual assault and rape. Their specialist facility is equipped to provide sound forensic testing, as well as a range of technology to enable evidence collection and court testimony from vulnerable victims.
In tackling hate crime, I set up and chair a Cleveland-wide Strategic Hate Crime and Incidents Group. I’ve also funded Cleveland Police to employ two dedicated Hate Crime Investigators, who have achieved over 200 successful hate crime prosecutions since their introduction.
I played a central role in establishing Cleveland-wide standards and governance for Third Party Reporting Centres for hate crime and supported training for a range of agencies, including major retailers and large corporations. This work continues as we engage with local bus companies to prevent hate crime on their vehicles through promotional activities and supportive interventions.
We have also engaged directly with victims to understand their views and experience of Cleveland Police and the support services I commission. We have taken part in focus groups to allow victims to voice any concerns or suggestions about how their voice could be better heard throughout the criminal justice process. One of the outcomes of this process was a pilot I instigated in the Cleveland Police Control Room to enable instant support, at the point of reporting, for the most vulnerable victims.
Much multi-agency work has taken place around Refugees and Asylum Seekers (RAS) in Cleveland. This has included the funding of a dedicated engagement officer within Cleveland Police to support minority communities, a review of the information provided to new arrivals to ensure victim support services are highlighted, and Hate Crime Champion training for the RAS community to encourage reporting of hate offences.
I commissioned a Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery expert to bring together key partners to collectively and collaboratively prevent, identify, disrupt and eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking in all its forms. The result of this work was the establishment of a multi-agency Cleveland Anti-Slavery Network. Through this group a Victim Care Pathway has been established - the first in the country - to ensure a smooth process to effectively provide care and support to victims 24/7 who are identified and rescued. This has been welcomed as a ground-breaking model of good practice by the national Anti-Slavery Commissioner Pictured: Barry Coppinger, Dame Sara Thornton and Chief Constable Richard Lewis.
Restorative Cleveland commenced on 1 April 2018 following a successful multi-agency pilot during 2017/18. The service delivered by Safe in Tees Valley, includes a partnership arrangement between Cleveland Police and Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company. During 2018 the service were successful in achieving the nationally acclaimed Restorative Service Quality Mark (RSQM) of which I am very proud. Between April 2018 to end December 2020, the service delivered 39 face-to-face interventions, with many more interventions delivered, including shuttle mediation and letters of explanation. The service was nominated for - and won - a Howard League for Penal Reform Award as a result of one of the cases they supported involving a Hate Crime.
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