• Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridge

Enhanced support for victims and witnesses of crime in Cambridgeshire

September 30th, 2016

VICTIMS and witnesses of crime will get an even better support service from today (30th Sept) following the opening, by Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, of a new Victim and Witness Hub.

The already successful Victims’ Hub has been merged with the Constabulary’s Witness Care Team to provide an ‘end to end’ support service for all victims and witnesses of crime.

Victim and Witness Care Co-ordinators can provide emotional and practical support to anyone affected by crime from the point of reporting and through any criminal justice process including giving evidence at court. The team also work closely with the Citizens Advice Bureau – who run a court-based witness service – to organise pre-trial visits and ensure a volunteer can offer support at court.

The Victim and Witness Hub, which is a free service, means that victims and witnesses, including bereaved relatives, parents or guardians of victims under 18 and even employees of business targeted by criminals will receive tailored support from the outset, should they need it. It is also available to victims of crime who don’t want to report to the police.

The co-ordinators provide emotional and practical support and can refer and signpost to other specialist services where required. This could include support for mental health issues, young victims of crime, practical help making homes secure or even linking people to community services. A number of co-ordinators also act as champions for victims of certain crime types such as hate crime, domestic abuse, burglary and cybercrime.

Victims can also benefit from face to face emotional support from a team of volunteers trained and accredited by the Hub staff.

One of the first people to benefit from the new joined up service was a victim of domestic abuse, a woman in her early 50s, who contacted police after being assaulted by her husband and enduring years of emotional abuse. She was referred to the Hub for support and spoke to a co-ordinator on the phone seven times over the next six weeks until her case concluded at court.

The co-ordinator not only offered emotional support, helped with applying for a restraining order but also kept her updated on court proceedings including the final outcome.

At the end of the case she said she was “overwhelmed with the level of support from beginning to end” and that she “would not have been able to go through (the) process without the support in place”.

She added that she “now has full confidence in the police in reporting domestic abuse and would like to do something to encourage other victims to come forward.”

The new service is jointly funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner through the Ministry of Justice Victims’ Services grant and the Constabulary.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite said:

“When I was elected, I vowed to build on the success of the Victims’ Hub, launched in 2014, to expand and enhance support for people affected by crime. Over the past few months, I have been working closely with the Constabulary to merge victim and witness services so that anyone affected by crime has access to a single, streamlined service.”

“By pooling resources, we are able to offer a better service from day one, when the crime is reported, throughout the criminal justice process and afterwards. This leads to people having more confidence in reporting crimes which in turn works more effectively for the good of society.”

Victim and Witness Hub Manager, Steve Welby, said: “Everyone deals with the impact of crime differently, and has their own way of coping, whether a victim or a witness. This can vary enormously depending on your personality, the support you have around you and your personal circumstances. We aim to be there to help people through their experience including the often daunting task of giving evidence at court.”

You can find out more by visiting http://www.cambs.police.uk/victims/VictimsHub/

Contact the Victim and Witness Hub by calling 0800 7816818 (Monday – Friday, 8am – 7pm and Saturday 9am – 5pm) or emailing victimandwitnesshub@cambs.pnn.police.uk.

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