West Yorkshire’s PCC welcomes the national report into improving support for victims
14th July 2020
National Victims Commissioner Dame Vera Baird released her first annual report outlining the work she has undertaken since taking up the post in March 2019.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, welcomed the focus on ensuring more awareness around the Victim’s Code and highlighting the need for more support for those reporting serious sexual crimes.
He said: “I worked closely with Dame Vera when she was Northumbria PCC and now as the National Victims Commissioner and know how much excellent work she undertaken to better support victims. This report highlights all the work she is doing across the spectrum to ensure victims have a voice, and are heard through the often exhausting labyrinth of the criminal justice system.
“She is working closely with us at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) to ensure we are working collectively to understand and address the issues victims face when reporting crimes, and how they are navigated through the legal process.
“Locally in West Yorkshire we have done much to champion the rights of victims with the launch of our Victim’s Strategy in February which Dame Vera attended and helped launch. That Strategy outlined seven objectives to raise awareness of what is available, including to victims who do not report to the police, to get the initial response from the police and others right first time, every time, and to increase overall confidence in the criminal justice system.
“The strategy also aims to ensure people get the support they need to cope and recover, tailored to their individual needs, to help address the barriers that can prevent that happening, to identify the gaps there still are, and ensure that the needs of children and young people are given appropriate attention. We need a whole system response that goes beyond the criminal justice system. Local authorities, the NHS and the third sector all have key roles to play in supporting victims
“We are currently working with local district Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) to ensure the aims in my strategy are being implemented at district level. We have just opened a new Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) at the heart of West Yorkshire to ensure we are supporting vulnerable victims of sexual violence through the whole criminal justice process.
“Dame Vera also highlights the need for a revised Victims Code and more awareness around it. I agree with this as it is crucial victims know what is in place to protect and support them, giving them recourse to hold people to account if needed.
“I also want to see a Victims Law, following a revised Victims Code that we have submitted ideas for, and both of these developments can’t come soon enough.
“I also chair of the West Yorkshire Local Criminal Justice Board (LCJB), and we have done all we can to support victims and witnesses during Covid-19, as Dame Vera has highlighted, and a local action plan has been developed to establish a new and better ways of working.
“I really welcome this annual report and look forward to continuing to work closely with Dame Vera going forward through my office, along with West Yorkshire Police to champion ongoing victims support at a local level, just as Dame Vera is doing nationally.”