Supporting victims is at the heart of everything we do
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, has welcomed the revised Victims Code published by the Ministry of Justice last week.
He said: “Supporting victims of crime is one of the key areas of our focus in our Police and Crime Plan and must be at the heart of everything we do.
“It’s a good step in the right direction as more victims can be made aware of their rights and shortening the code will make it more accessible.”
The new Victims’ Code provides victims of crime with the rights they need to support them at one of the most challenging times of their lives, whether they decide to report a crime or not.
It sets out the level of support victims must receive from the police, courts and other criminal justice agencies, with 12 Rights that are designed to be clear, concise and easy to understand.
To find out more about your rights before the Code comes into force on 1 April 2021, go to the Ministry of Justice website.
Roger added: “We are committed to ensuring victims receive the support they are entitled to under the Victims Code of Practice and will ensure services for victims are driven by their needs and provide the necessary support to help them cope and recover from crime.”
• We believe victims should be at the heart of the criminal justice system and are placing a special emphasis on their needs within each and every policing priority
• Every victim should receive the services they are entitled to under the Victims Code and we will ensure that the criminal justice agencies are held to account for the delivery against the code
• Everyone who reports a crime should be kept informed and updated about their case
• People who have experienced harm should receive appropriate support and be directly involved in the design of their services
• We will commission services which are driven by the needs of the victim and we will regularly seek feedback to improve and provide even better support, so victims are able to cope and recover from their experience
• Our Restorative Justice Services, which are focused on the needs of the victims, will expand to enable more victims to have access
One of the services we commission to support victims in Essex is Victim Support. Find out more about one of its new services for Essex residents below.
Victims of crime who are reluctant to report their experience are being supported with a new virtual service.
People who have fallen victim to a crime but are anxious about speaking with anyone about it are logging on to My Support Space to manage the impact the incident has had on them.
The free, safe, secure and confidential online resource was set up by Victim Support during the first Covid-19 national lockdown earlier this year.
The independent charity provides specialist practical and emotional support to thousands of Essex residents each month who have witnessed or become a victim of a crime.
My Support Space enables victims of crime to set up an account and gain access to a range of tools – including videos, techniques, activities and tips – to help them to cope and move forward.
They can work through relevant interactive guides addressing specific needs at their own pace.
It is hoped the resource will act as a stepping-stone in giving victims the confidence to report the crime.
Sara McParland, senior caseworker, said: “My Support Space was set up as we saw a gap. While some victims report crimes to the police, others do not feel comfortable reporting and yet are still victims of crime. Others might have reported and are struggling and do not feel they can reach out and talk to someone about it.
“We wanted to provide victims of crime with an online resource to enable us to help them in the same way we would if we were having a conversation with them. This way, they can work through the programme at their own pace, picking it up and putting it down whenever they want to. It is a confidential space people can access in their own time.
“It has been designed so people can reflect on their feelings after a crime and understand how they can support themselves during that time. It is very simple to use, so even those who are not IT savvy can use it.
“It could result in the victim giving us a call. They could work through a module and realise what they are experiencing is real and that it is a crime. We hope they will then take the next step and call us, so we can put specialist support in place.
“It is a really important part of our work. I absolutely love it. I think it’s brilliant.”
With the service having launched in April, it has provided support for those falling victim to crime as a result of the pandemic.
Sara said: “The uptake for the domestic abuse module on the site has been really high, with people not feeling safe in their own homes. There have also been more people turning to the site because of neighbour harassment issues, as people are getting resentful of neighbours breaking the rules while they are trying to do the right thing themselves. It can become a very sensitive situation that creates a divide, especially for those who are already vulnerable.
“We are definitely seeing different crime patterns. When the first lockdown was eased, burglaries and assaults went up and we got a flood of domestic abuse calls.”
While the tool is aimed at people affected by crime, its guides on wellbeing, trauma, difficult emotions, social media harassment, home safety, coping strategies and the justice system can be used by anyone needing support.
Sign up at www.mysupportspace.org.uk/MoJ