• Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridge

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.

The ‘Understand, Plan, Do and Review’ Commissioning Model has underpinned work to develop a fully integrated model of support for victims of crime.  Local victim needs assessments, regular consultation with victim service providers and victims themselves has enabled a clear understanding of the services required.  All services are regularly evaluated to ensure they continue meet the needs of the victims who use them.

The Victims Code of Practice explains what information, services and support victims of crime can expect to receive at every stage of their journey through the criminal justice system.

Victim and Witness Hub – provided by Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Cambridgeshire agencies 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.

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

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.

There are two routes into the Victims and Witness Hub: self-referral 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.

The co-ordinators contact a victim by phone and offer to develop a recovery plan with them. 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.

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 existing specialist victim support service providers
  • 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.

If you are required to attend court or give evidence as a victim or witness, your coordinator will work with you to understand your needs and will ensure you receive the support you are entitled to, such as;

  • special measures to help you give evidence which could include a visit to the court to familiarise yourself
  • arranging transport or childcare for you to attend court.

The Witness Charter sets out how you can expect to be treated by the police if you are a witness to a crime or incident, and if you are asked to give evidence in a criminal court.

You can contact the Victims and Witness Hub on 0800 7816818 or email victimand witnesshub@cambs.pnn.police.uk

Specialist posts within the Victim 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 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 identify potential mental health issues and awareness of how these issues can affect a victim’s ability to cope and recover

Specialist Victim and Witness Care Co-ordinator for young victims of crime – provided by Family Action Peterborough

Young victims of crime and their families can access specialist emotional and practical support in a way, and at a time, that suits their needs.  The post holder can advocate on behalf of a young person and help them access physical and online services provided by other agencies.

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

A charity is commissioned to provide crime prevention advice and secure the homes of elderly victims of crime.  This helps them to feel safer in their own home and reduces their chance of becoming a repeat victim.

Countywide support for survivors of sexual violence – provided by Cambridge and Peterborough Rape Crisis Partnership

The partnership aims to alleviate the psychological and emotional trauma that affects survivors of sexual violence. Through the services provided survivors are supported to overcome both the short and long-term effects of sexual violence whilst they work to regain control of their lives and make positive decisions about their future.Services include:

  • Independent Sexual Violence Advisors for adults
  • Independent Sexual Violence Advisors for children and young people
  • Telephone helpline and email support
  • Therapeutic support /Counselling services
  • Peer group support

Support for victim of domestic abuse

This is delivered through a partnership of agencies in the county. You can find details of the services available and how to access them from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership website. 

The Police and Crime Commissioner funds a countywide Young Person Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) – provided by Cambridgeshire County Council to advocate on behalf of young victims of domestic abuse. The post holder provides safety planning and crisis support along with longer term support with coping and recovering from their experience.

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 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.

Successful funding bid from the Home Office Violence Against Women and Girls Transformation Fund – provided by Embrace – Child Victims of Crime

This three-year funding enables the provision of trauma-focused CBT therapeutic support to young people who have been victims of, or witnessed domestic abuse or sexual violence and those who may be showing low-level potentially harmful behaviours as a result of what they have been exposed to. It can be delivered at locations across the county through a framework of checked and accredited therapists.