Community Remedy was introduced in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
It is a tool to give victims a say in the out of court punishment of perpetrators for low level crime and anti-social behaviour.
Following feedback from a public consultation by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in March 2014, a list of options were identified and agreed.
This was in order for victims to indicate their preference as to how the perpetrator should be dealt with.
One of the options included targeted interventions. Targeted interventions can be used to assist the offender to address issues they may have to overcome or to understand the impact of their crime and/or anti-social behaviour. The Victim Awareness Course (VAC) has been identified as one of these interventions.
The Victim Awareness Course (VAC) delivered over three hours by Victim Support. It is an educational and rehabilitative option for an offender who has committed low level crime and/or anti-social behaviour.
The course was developed with victims at the heart and is intended to educate offenders as to the impact of their actions. It aims to help them to understand the effect that such offending has on victims, their loved-ones, themselves and the wider community.
The course is self-financing as offenders have to pay £55 to attend as part of Community Remedy conditions.
Ten people must attend each course for Victim Support to break-even. If, after a number of months, courses are not fully subscribed, the Police and Crime Commissioner may have to subsidise for each vacant place. This will be closely monitored on a month by month basis.
The Victim Awareness Course is currently being academically evaluated however, early findings are encouraging;
- 88% of attendees stated that the course had helped them to think about the behaviour which led them to having to attend the VAC.
- 78% stated that they would ‘definitely’ behave differently in future as a result of having attended the course; a further 15% indicated that they may possibly behave differently and the remainder stated that they were not sure.
- 80% of VAC attendees either agreed or strongly agreed that the course helped them to look at the victim’s perspective on the crime/incident.
- 90% stated that the course had helped them to think about how the victim might feel as a result of their offending behaviour.
- 92% of VAC attendees indicated that the course had helped them understand the impact of crime in general on victims.
Early indications from victims suggest they appreciate the approach and the rationale of the Victim Awareness Course which seeks to present a fair balance between punishment and rehabilitation.