• Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridge

In Focus

Victims and Witnesses

An integrated model of support for victims and witnesses of crime in Cambridgeshire

Police and Crime Commissioners are responsible for commissioning local support services for victims of crime. The Ministry of Justice provides the Commissioner with a grant each year to enable services which best meet the needs of local victims of crime to be funded.

Cambridgeshire took on this responsibility in October 2014 – six months earlier than the majority of other areas – after volunteering to become an ‘early adopter’.

The ‘Understand, Plan, Do and Review’ Commissioning Model has underpinned work to develop a fully integrated model of support for victims of crime. All services are regularly evaluated to ensure they meet the needs of victims.

In Cambridgeshire a ‘Victim and Offender Needs Assessment’, regular consultation with victims’ services providers and the victims themselves enabled a clear understanding of the needs of victims in the county. Agencies across the county also signed up to a Victim Strategy which, along with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime 2012 (Victims’ Code) and the EU Victims’ Directive, established a framework for the commissioning of victim-driven support.

The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime explains what information, services and support victims of crime can expect to receive at every stage of their journey through the criminal justice system.  To find out more click on the link below:

Victims Code of Practice

Cambridgeshire Constabulary-led Victim and Witness Hub

Cambridgeshire agencies all agreed to opt out of the national services provided by the charity Victim Support and create a police-led locally-based Victims’ Hub in 2014.

From 30th September 2016, the 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.

The Hub is staffed by local people who understand local crime trends and the local support services available.  The flexibility of the model has meant the Hub has been able to respond to change to the Victims’ Code which extends entitlements to victims of careless and drink driving. Support is also available to vulnerable victims of anti-social behaviour.

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.

There are two routes into the Victims and Witness Hub: self-referral (whether the crime has been reported to the police or not) and an automated referral as a result of an Initial Victim Needs Assessment. This form of triage is carried out when a crime is reported to police. It not only ensures those victims who need additional support to cope and recover are referred to the Hub but also reinforces the need to be victim-centered.

Victim and Witness Care Co-ordinators, based in the Hub, assess the victims of crime referred to them, and those who self-refer, through a Detailed Needs Assessment. The Victim and Witness Care Co-ordinator and the victim then agree a recovery plan calling on specialist services as required. Initial information about restorative justice and how it could help them come to terms with what has happened to them is also provided.

 The recovery plan could include:

  • telephone-based emotional and practical support from a Victim and Witness Care Co-ordinator
  • face to face emotional and practical support from a Victim and Witness Hub Community Volunteer
  • referrals/supportive signposting to an existing specialist victim support service provider in accordance with their needs
  • supportive signposting to community services, groups or networks who can provide longer term practical or emotional support to enable victims to recover and move on.
  • You can contact the Victims and Witness Hub on 0800 7816818 or email victimshub@cambs.pnn.police.uk

Specialist posts within the Victims and Witness Hub

A Lithuanian and Russian speaking Specialist Victim and Witness Care Co-ordinator has been recruited to provide support for migrant victims of exploitation. The post holder is responsible for working with the Constabulary and other agencies to identify migrant victims of trafficking and/or exploitation and acting as an advocate for their needs. They also provide emotional and practical support to these victims of crime (whether they decide to report the crime to the police or not) to enable them to, where possible, recover from the crime they have experienced. This also involves facilitating liaison between other agencies (in particular the National Referral Mechanism) and service providers where necessary.

Mental Health Pathfinders (CPNs) – provided by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT)

This support – which is provided after a referral from either a VCC, Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA), or Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) – ranges from providing self-help techniques on relaxation, stress and anxiety management to personal face to face visits and pathfinding victims to the most appropriate primary care services. These CPNs have also been improving victim support providers’ knowledge of how to dentify potential mental health issues and awareness of how these issues can affect a victim’s ability to cope and recover

Specialist Victim Care Co-ordinator – Young victims of crime provided by Family Action Peterborough. This grant funds a Specialist Victim Care Coordinator to provide emotional and practical support to young victims of crime and their families to enable them to, where possible, recover from the crime they have experienced. This will include acting as an advocate for their needs and facilitating access to the services provided by other agencies where necessary.

Home Security for elderly victims of crime – provided by Cambridgeshire Shrievalty Trust

A charity is commissioned to provide practical support to elderly victims of crime to secure their homes and make them feel safe.

Children and Young Person Sexual Violence Advisors (CHISVAs) – Provided by Cambridge Rape Crisis and Peterborough Rape Crisis.

The Commissioner funds two posts to provide specialist support to young victims of sexual violenc

Young Person Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) – provided by Cambridgeshire County Council

Road Traffic Victims – Provided by the Road Victims Trust

The bereaved families of those killed on the county’s roads in fatal road traffic collisions are supported by a the Road Victims Trust. The work of the charity’s volunteers not only saves officer time but professionalises the support offered to families in what are often traumatic circumstances.

Restorative Justice

Police and Crime Commissioners are responsible for commissioning restorative justice services in Cambridgeshire from the grant they receive from the Ministry of Justice for Victims’ Services.

Restorative Justice (RJ) is a process which “brings those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward”.

The process is completely voluntary for both parties and is done at a time that is right for the victim. It can empower victims by letting them have their say and helping them to move on with their lives and it can help offenders to recognise the impact of what they have done and make amends.

Accessing Restorative Justice in Cambridgeshire

If you have been a victim of any type of crime, whether recently or historically, and are interested in speaking to someone to explore whether restorative justice could be for you can call 0800 781 6818 or email restorativejustice@cambs.pnn.police.uk 

If you want to know more about what restorative justice is you can speak to the Restorative Justice Co-ordinator on the above number or visit:

·   The Constabulary website: https://www.cambs.police.uk/victims/rj/

·   Restorative Justice Council: www.restorativejustice.org.uk 

The Cambridgeshire model

Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner both agreed, in their first strategic vision for Restorative Justice, to “work in partnership with other agencies develop, embed and deliver an extended range of appropriate and sustainable Restorative Justice interventions which: improve victim satisfaction, promote desistence and create safer stronger communities”.

A multi-agency virtual RJ Hub has been set up by the Constabulary, funded by the PCC to act as a single point of contact for RJ enquiries. This bespoke model works alongside the Constabulary-run Cambridgeshire Victim and Witness Hub and is part of the wider integrated model of support services for victims of crime.

Multi-Agency Virtual Hub

A Restorative Justice Case Supervisor and Co-ordinator receives all referrals from Victim and Witness Care Co-ordinators, police officers and staff and other agencies on behalf of victims who are interested in exploring restorative justice. This post holder then co-ordinates the provision of high quality victim-focused restorative justice conferences and interventions delivered by trained facilitators. Victims of crime who haven’t reported to police can also ‘self-refer’ through this service.  For more detailed information on Restorative Justice visit the dedicated page here.

Other previously funded services

The Commissioner has previously funded a wide range of other services – to see which services received funding in 2014/15 and those currently funded in 2015/16 please see the ‘Victims’ Grants’ document below.

Several of the Victim and Witness Care Co-ordinators also act as ‘champions’ on specific crime types. These include domestic abuse, hate crime, dwelling burglary, anti-social behaviour and plans are currently under development for a champion for cybercrime.

For more information visit: http://www.cambs.police.uk/victims/VictimsHub/