Yesterday in Weston Super Mare, I attended the launch of an excellent new report commissioned by Victim Support . This focused on the issues affecting victims and witnesses of crime in Avon and Somerset. It also included challenges to the new PCCs on the role they should take in the delivery of services to victims of crime. These timely and pertinent challenges need to be addressed by prospective PCC candidates.
However, in the ensuing discussion several issues became apparent:
1) The report might have drawn on the work of an even wider range of victims’ organisations working in Avon and Somerset, especially those supporting the victims of anti-social behaviour.
2) There are a large number of organisations working with victims of crime in all its manifestations e.g. hate crime, domestic violence, anti-social behaviour, sexual violence etc.
3) Looking at offender profiles it is clear that many of them have been victims themselves, either from physical or sexual abuse or being caught up in domestic violence as children. As such there is a correlation between being victims of crime and offending. This is not to excuse offending or stigmatise victims but to understand the relationship.
PCCs are going to be faced with reduced budgets and demands from a wide range of organisations for financial support. We will have to make sure we make the best use of existing services so we can extract maximum value from the budget. Therefore whilst accepting the proposals posed by the Report my own proposals to victims’ organisations in Avon and Somerset are:
1. Look at how they might further improve coordination of their services in presenting a joined up case to enable PCCs and victims organisations to be even more effective .
2. Look at and articulate the impact their services can provide in reducing offending as well as the impacts on victims.
Thanks to Victim Support for inviting me to such a stimulating and useful day and I look forward to working with VS and other victims organisations in the future.