Essex victims share their experiences to help others
ESSEX victims of rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse and the families of murder victims have shared their frank experiences of dealing with police and the criminal justice system as part of a research project commissioned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Essex.
As of October 1 this year, the responsibility for commissioning local victims’ services – such as specialist counselling for victims of rape, advocacy for victims of domestic abuse, support for hate crime victims etc – has been transferred from the Ministry of Justice to Police and Crime Commissioners.
To ensure that the services provided in Essex have victims at their core and provide the support needed, the OPCC commissioned IPSOS MORI to carry out a research project on its behalf. This saw researchers contacting victims of all types in Essex to find out first-hand what their experience of the county’s criminal justice system, police and support agencies was like.
The findings revealed that some victims were impressed by the services they received from support groups, police and their contact with the criminal justice system including the courts and Essex CRC (formerly Essex probation). However the report also identified some areas for improvement.
Researchers found that victims of thefts and burglary in Essex were often “surprised” but pleased to receive a call from local support charities. However they also uncovered that victims of sexual assault and families affected by murder were often confused about the support on offer to them and that it was inconsistent.
Victims of some serious crimes found they did not receive the same level of support if their case was not pursued through the courts and others said they would like specialist help to continue beyond the conclusion of a prosecution, for example at difficult times such as the anniversary of their trauma.
The findings, published in a report called Essex Victims Perspective, will now inform how the OPCC design and develop future local services for victims.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “In order to provide effective services for victims, we need to hear from them, learn from their experiences – good and bad – and use that to inform our work going forward.
“Victims are, and always will be, at the centre of what we do. My overall aim is to reduce the number of victims of crime in Essex, but at the same time I want to ensure that victims of crime get the best possible help and support.”
Read the full report below: