But the reality is every year tens of thousands of people in our force area do have to deal with the aftermath of a crime, which can be traumatic, terrifying, overwhelming, or even just more of an inconvenience or annoyance. Every victim’s experience will be uniquely personal to them – there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to feel or cope.
In the financial year 2021-22, 70,709 victims of crime were identified by Devon and Cornwall Police, up by 12.5% compared to the previous year. But that is not the whole story; not everyone is ready to, or wants to, report what has happened to police, and I am committed to making sure these people do not fall through the cracks.
It’s so important that every person affected by crime gets access to the right kind of support for them, without being turned away or passed between services with no clear view of how their pathway to recovery will look.
Supporting victims is one of my priorities in my Police and Crime Plan, and last week I was in Westminster to speak with ministers and MPs about my office’s innovative approach to funding services, and to launch our brand new Victim Care website.
The site, which can be found at victimcare-dc.org, takes a purely victim-centred approach to accessing support, resources and information, regardless of whether or not a crime has been reported to the police.
Taking that first step to seeking help can be daunting and confusing, so we made it our priority to make the experience as easy and welcoming as possible, with the aim of informing and empowering the user and putting them at the heart of their own care.
The site provides a one-door contact through to our strategic delivery partner Victim Support, who through their 24-hour support line and live chat will use their expert knowledge to get the best available support in place.
People seeking help will be allocated an independent advocate, who will be by their side every step of the way to guide them as they go through their journey to recovery. This model is one of only five adopted nationally, and we are proud that ours is the only one in the country to offer this throughout the victim’s full support period.
Our 10-year contract with Victim Support was launched in 2019 and this financial year I will spend £3.42m funding this partnership which is focused on delivering equity of service to all victims and, thanks to its long-term approach, will ensure enduring relationships with providers and ongoing innovation to better support victims.
During 2021-22 a total of 41,112 people were supported through this pathway, and I hope that with the help of our new website we will be able to reach many more as our partnership matures.
I also spend a further £600,000 funding a number of specialist support services for victims of child exploitation; children and young people experiencing sexual violence and abuse; and peer support and therapeutic services for women and men experiencing sexual violence and abuse.
We have also launched new services for victims of antisocial behaviour, as well as for children, young people and families. Also with funding from Vision Zero SW we are now able to support those affected by road traffic collisions.
I was pleased to have the opportunity alongside Victim Support to showcase these fantastic initiatives with key individuals at Westminster including Minister of State for Victims Edward Argar and Minister for Safeguarding Sarah Dines, as well as a number of our local MPs.
We also spoke about welcoming the enhanced role of PCCs in monitoring compliance of code rights in the upcoming Victims and Prisoners Bill with MPs directly involved, as well as the move to three-year funding and a Victims Funding Strategy which will hopefully go a long way to resolving issues around services’ recruitment and retention.
I would like to thank not only Victim Support, all our services and my commissioning team for their hard work and dedication to getting victims the best possible support, but also every single person who finds the strength to take that first step to getting help – I want you to know that we are here to help you cope and recover.
Visit victimcare-dc.org for more information or to access support 24/7. You can also call Victim Support’s 24-hour Supportline on 08 08 16 89 111.