Victims’ services secure £4.5m vital funding from West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (21 Mar 2018)

PCC Mark Burns- Williamson has confirmed continuing funding for two major services in West Yorkshire to ensure victims and witnesses of crime can continue to access appropriate support.

The charity Victim Support has been awarded £3.6million to continue to provide core support to victims and witnesses, including those aged 18 and under for the first time, when their contract renews on March 26, for the next three years.

The second three year contract, for restorative justice services, worth £900,000, has been awarded to not for profit community interest company Restorative Solutions, who will support victims to engage directly with offenders wherever appropriate to try and achieve closure and prevent reoffending, from April 3.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "I am very pleased to have been able to put in place these new and improved services for victims and witnesses. These are further important steps along the way to a new deal for all victims, making a reality of the Victims Code which has been in place for a while.

"Many people affected by crime often feel unable to get the help they need, whether or not they wish to report it to the police, so these new services and contracts will ensure that wider support and ensure more options are available. Since some of the funding was delegated to me by the Ministry of Justice in 2015, I have been working hard to improve the situation with our valued partners in West Yorkshire to ensure we are doing all we can collectively to make people feel supported and safe."

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle, of West Yorkshire Police, added: "Being a victim of crime can be an extremely distressing and traumatic time and it is very important they receive the care and support they need from the point of report, throughout the judicial process and beyond if required."

Restorative justice provides victims with the opportunity, if they so wish, to engage directly with offenders if they have been identified. While not an alternative to the criminal justice system, there is strong evidence that for some victims it can help them cope with and recover from the impact of crime more effectively than traditional approaches.

It is based on the victims' wishes, from indirect to direct contact, including the possibility of a meeting with the offender.

For the first time, the Victim Support contract will include a webchat service and police officers will ask victims and witnesses if their details can be passed onto Victim Support so they can be offered further support.

Those not wishing to report the crime to police can also self-refer by contacting the Victims' Hubs in each district, on line (including a web chat service) or by telephone.

The PCC's Help for Victims website, https://www.helpforvictims.co.uk/home, provides information about these and many other services.

Diana Fawcett, Chief Officer of Victim Support, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded this contract once again to support victims across West Yorkshire.

"Having local hubs across the five districts means we can deliver the best possible service to victims of all crimes, with easier access face to face support from our specially trained staff and volunteers.

"As part of this new contract we are delighted to be able to offer full inclusion of support for children and young people. This will allow us to deliver emotional and practical support to more victims to help them move beyond the crime."

Restorative Justice Chief Executive, Gary Stephenson, said: "Restorative Solutions are excited at the opportunity to be working across West Yorkshire in order to deliver safe and effective Restorative Justice for victims of crime, who will be provided with the opportunity to seek the answers from those who have caused them such harm and distress.

"We will be working with a large number of partners across West Yorkshire, including Victim Support, and plan to have the service in place by early April." For more information on Victim Support call 0300 303 1971, or visit www.victimsupport.org.uk and then connect to West Yorkshire. For more information on Restorative Justice, please contact West Yorkshire RJ Service Delivery Manager [email protected]

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018