Victims of crime are being given the opportunity to appeal lenient sentences thanks to new measures taken by a Cleveland support agency
Stockton-based Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS) – the flagship victim support service commissioned by Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – has so far appealed sentences in three cases.
In a serious violence case, the two offenders had their sentences more than doubled.
The appeal to the Attorney General came after the original penalty was thought to be too lenient.
A VCAS spokesperson, said: “The original sentence did not reflect the crime. There were so many aggravating factors.
“After the case went to the Court of Appeal, the new sentences were a massive result.
“This is about giving victims a voice within the court process. If they do not feel they get the sentence, which a crime deserves, we will support them throughout the process. We will go down the appeal route if they feel that is what they want.”
Cleveland PCC Steve Turner said: “I’m well aware of the frustrations many members of the public have when they see what they consider to be lenient sentences handed out to some criminals.
“As the victims’ champion for Cleveland, it is my duty to ensure that I do everything I possibly can to ensure those who suffer at the hands of criminals get the best possible outcome for themselves and their families.
“VCAS is a key commissioned service through my office and I am happy to hear about anything that puts victims’ needs first – particularly in the criminal justice process.
“Whilst we cannot, and will not, intervene in the justice process, it is right and proper that we support a service where victims can appeal sentences as it is one of the most effective ways for them to have their say – and get a punishment, which they believe fits the crime.”
VCAS only started to help victims appeal sentences towards the end of last year.
However, staff already have a success rate of more than 50 per cent when it comes to getting tougher sentences.
Supporting the appeals’ process is just one of the activities carried out on behalf of victims of crime and antisocial behaviour.
Originally commissioned by Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in 2016, Vcas was recently re-commissioned . Since 2016, Vcas has supported an estimated 15,360 victims.
The free, independent and confidential service gives a range of emotional and practical support – from training members of the community to pinpoint potential fraud to helping victims reclaim cash lost to scammers.
A conference at Cleveland Police central headquarters told professionals about VCAS’ services and successes throughout Cleveland.
Victims of crime and antisocial behaviour can contact Vcas for support regardless of whether they have reported incidents to the police or not.
To find out more, go to: https://vcas.uk/