Conference hears about good work to support victims
WORK being done to establish and improve victims’ services across Essex was the focus of a conference hosted by the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex (OPCC).
Since April 1 this year responsibility for victims support services – such as counselling for people who have been sexually abused and advocacy for those suffering domestic abuse – which were once commissioned nationally by the Ministry of Justice have been handed to local PCCs.
This year’s second annual victim’s commissioning conference, hosted at the Central Baptist Church in Chelmsford, allowed partners to hear how the OPCC have handled this responsibility, how money has been spent to improve services for victims across the county and to establish support services where there had been a gap.
Representatives from Essex Police, various Community Safety Partnerships from around the county, Victim Support, domestic abuse charity Safer Places and the anti-knife crime charity Only Cowards Carry were just some of the delegates who attended.
The event, which took place on Wednesday (April 15) aimed to ensure that consistent services are provided to victims across Essex, Southend and Thurrock, that all partners share and learn from work being done on behalf of victims locally and nationally and that the success of pilot projects – such as the recently launched Elder Abuse hotline – are closely monitored.
The event was opened by Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex. Mr Alston told the audience about the importance of keeping victims at the heart of everything for police and partners. He also spoke about his focus on crimes, known as hidden harms, which are offences hidden from public view such as sexual abuse, online grooming, elder abuse and fraud.
Mr Alston said: “For the past two years we have been focusing on getting victims to the centre of everything we do.
“I am very proud of what we at the OPCC have achieved by working with Essex Police and other partners in the public and voluntary sector. There was much excellent work already taking place, and we will continue to build on the best of that. But we have also identified some gaps in support services across the county.
“In particular, we need to provide support to those victims falling prey to ‘hidden harm’.
“These types of crime are amongst the most serious and certainly the most damaging for the victims but I, police and our partners need to be able to understand the problem, care for the victims and catch the perpetrators.
“This conference has provided an excellent opportunity for the OPCC, police and partners to review the work we have done so far and to ensure we continue putting victims at the heart of all we do.”
The conference also heard presentations from the OPCC’s Assistant Director for Commissioning Greg Myddelton, Simon Hart of the Essex Safeguarding Victims Board and Jan Dalrymple from Safer Places.
Delegates were also given the opportunity to take part in workshops focusing on hate crime, hidden harms involving adults and children and Victim Support’s new referral and assessment hub.
Below are the documents given to delegates at the conference: