The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Alison Hernandez, is responsible for delivering victim care in the area and works closely with the Victim Care Network to ensure that help is on hand to those who need it. Help and support is offered through the Victim Care website (victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk).
On Wednesday (18 March), a web chat facility, run by the Victim Support charity, will be launched on the website to ensure that there is an additional channel readily available. Victims of crime can chat to someone online who can offer emotional and practical support and advice. The channel can also be accessed via Victim Support’s website - victimsupport.org.uk/help-and-support/get-help/support-near-you/live-chat
Alison Hernandez said: “I want to reassure communities that our police force is well prepared to deal with the Covid-19 virus and has detailed plans in place for precisely this situation.
“However, it is vital we prepare for a possible rise in incidents of crimes such as domestic abuse that might go hand in hand with a period of mass isolation. I want victims to get straight to the services they need as quickly as possible and the launch of live chat means that they will be able to do exactly that.
“The strength of our victim care system is that we work with charities and not for profit organisations across the region, but staff may be absent from work due to the virus, so it is important we consider alternatives. My office has been working on plans to increase the support that is there and, working in partnership with Victim Care, this web chat facility for victims of crime will be a valuable addition to the services already available.”
Live Chat is a web-based support service that will be available to victims in Devon and Cornwall 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is anonymous, confidential and free to use. To access it please visit victimsupport.org.uk or visit the Victim Care website – victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk. Victim Support will still offer telephone support on 0808 1689 111.
Mark Thompson from Victim Support said: “Sadly, we know that being isolated worsens the impact of crime and slows down recovery. We have been working hard with the PCC’s office to ensure that victims can still access support throughout the COVID pandemic.”
In addition to the web chat facility, other channels for victim support are still available. The Victim Care Unit can be contacted on 01392 475900 from 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm at the weekend. Information on the practical and emotional support on offer is available at victimcaredevonandcornwall.org.uk.
In a non-emergency, you can also report a crime 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 101 webchat or on the online crime reporting form - both on the force website – devon-cornwall.police.uk. There’s also a useful AskNed system that provides online advice on a range of issues and by signing up to Neighbourhood Alert regular updates and information can be received from the OPCC. This can be done via devonandcornwall-pcc.gov.uk.
Crime can also be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via its website – crimestoppers-uk.org
The situation continues to change rapidly so for up to date advice on the Covid-19 virus please visit the Force website – devon-cornwall.police.uk and gov.uk