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Humberside looks at single point of contact for victims

Humberside PCC is looking at commissioning a ‘victims hub’.

The hub would provide victims with a single point of contact to help them with referrals, understanding court requirements or just explaining what stage their case is at.  

The idea is still in its development phase and being put to the public, with the OPCC looking at 2024 as a provisional launch date.

Humberside is sharing information with forces doing similar things, including Thames Valley Police’s Victims’ First scheme which provides emotional and practical support to both victims and witnesses and their family members.

Last month, Durham OPCC announced they were bringing victim services in house following a pilot with external provider Victim Care and Advice Service. Their model will see additinal specialist support in the control room as well as offering single points of contact for victims. 

While the Humberside scheme is still in its development phase, PCC Jonathan Evison and office lead for Victim Services, Lisa Bygate spoke with Police Oracle about their hopes for the initiative.

“What we want to do is we want to help people obviously recover best from their ordeal,” PCC Evison said.

“I am concerned that there isn't a one-stop shop […] crime can affect people in a lot of different ways. Some individuals don't really need a lot of help, but just want to know what's going on with the investigation or the court case. Other people need a more enhanced sort of network to support them.

“If you can go to one place for that’s not just giving the victim a good journey. If they're having to search around it just adds more pressure on that individual at a time where they really haven't got the capacity to deal with that sort of thing.”

He explained that the hub would be designed to get people the help they need from practitioners in the area without having to search for them. It would work separately from the police – and although the force would be able to refer people over if they wanted via an automatic data transfer, victims would also be able to self-refer and would be under no obligation to make a police report if they didn’t want to.

The victim would get a named caseworker who could help guide them through the process as well as ensuring they understand their rights under the Victim’s Code of Practice. While the finer points haven’t been decided, it is envisioned as a commissioned service.

With a focus is on victim support, there would still be policing benefits however.

PCC Evison said: “All intelligence is very [helpful], information is a very sought after and anything that we can do to stop other victims being created - because it's far better to try to stop people becoming victims in the first place rather than to have to triage that issue afterwards.”

Lisa Bygate said: “It is about finding a safe place where anybody feels comfortable coming forward and reporting. So one of the things we're really looking to do with the hub, if we can, is to make that trusted place. So people that aren't reporting now, will feel comfortable coming forward, even if they don't want to report it to the police, they can come to the hub, get the support they need and maybe be supported to contact the police if they feel capable of doing that.

“It is about increasing that reporting and making sure people have access to the services, so they don't then become a repeat victim.”

She explained that in the last PCC survey, they received a lot of comments around people saying they hadn’t understood the process or didn’t know what was going on, saying that it would be useful to have someone who could guide and help them.

PCC Evison said: “It's the same as insurance, all insurance now is sold through a website that gives you all the quotes, your holidays are all sold, your train tickets are all sold in this collective way. It's the modern way of doing it - collecting these things in one spot. And that's what so the logic of it is.”

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