Mayor invests £15m in improved services for victims and witnesses
Mayor invests in improved services for victims and witnesses
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is to invest £15million in a new and improved service for victims and witnesses of crime, which will offer a range of practical and emotional support services under one roof.
His increased investment will create the UK’s largest dedicated service centred on the needs of victims and witnesses of crime. The Mayor is committed to joining up the support available to witnesses and victims of crime in the criminal justice system, as well as continuing to invest in Independent Domestic Violence Advocates, which were both key priorities in his Police and Crime Plan.
Victim Support will begin delivery of the new service in April after being awarded the contract following a competitive tender process. Research commissioned by the Mayor to better understand victims’ experiences in navigating the Criminal Justice System found improvements need to be made after learning that some victims had been passed between agencies, often resulting in them being left without the support they needed. It became clear that because of this process, victims had to repeat their stories several times to a number of different professionals, adding to their ordeal.
Victim Support will provide a single point of contact for victims and witnesses, delivering an approach that victims can have greater trust in by making it easier for them to access support they need and prevent them from having to relive their trauma repeatedly. By improving victims’ experience, the Mayor is working to increase Londoners’ confidence in the criminal justice system, which will lead to more victims coming forward.
London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, said: “Being a victim or witness to a crime is absolutely devastating- and it’s simply not good enough that some of them are not getting access to the right support, or are having to relive their trauma over and over again.
“Victim Support has demonstrated it will be able bring specialist services together to provide one contact point for victims, and the Mayor’s investment will make sure that every Londoner has access to the support they need at one of the most difficult times of their life.
“At City Hall, we’ve spent months talking to victims and those involved in all stages of the criminal justice system to get to the heart of the issues and understand where improvements need to be made, because it’s crucial we have a system victims and witnesses have confidence in.”
Victims’ Commissioner for London, Claire Waxman, said: “It is fantastic to see such a significant investment in a service that has been designed to reflect the needs of victims and witnesses in London and will provide that much needed single point of contact to victims.
“It’s absolutely crucial that victims and witnesses have trust and confidence in a service that allows them access to all the support they need throughout the process, preventing them from further trauma & enabling their recovery.”
Chief Officer of Victim Support, Diana Fawcett, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the new contract which will allow our dedicated team of specially trained staff and volunteers to continue to provide independent support to victims and witnesses of crime across London.
“With our wealth of experience and knowledge, we will provide practical help and emotional support, whether or not the crime has been reported to the police.
“This new contract will allow us to provide an integrated service for victims and witnesses of crime, including those affected by domestic abuse, as well as offer restorative justice and support for those going to court. This will ensure victims and witnesses receive a seamless journey through the criminal justice system.”
Notes to editors
- The new Integrated Victims and Witnesses Service (IVWS) for London is due to launch on 1st April 2019, providing better, more streamlined support for victims and witnesses in London.
- As part of good procurement practices and in order to improve quality of service delivered, MOPAC recently commissioned this service via a competitive tender process welcoming bids from all providers.
- Following a thorough evaluation process, by a panel made up of representatives of MOPAC, key partners in the criminal justice system and the third sector, a decision was reached to award the contract to Victim Support.
- Victim Support will be acting as the lead provider, working in partnership with a number of agencies such as, Shelter, Galop, Sistah Space, St Giles Trust, Stay Safe East and Calm mediation.
- The new service was designed after thorough research was undertaken with victims, providers and stakeholders within the justice system, to identify issues such as existing fragmentation between support agencies, lack of consistency in support and having to repeat traumatic events to a number of different professionals.
- The new service will also utilise a proportion of budget devolved from the Ministry of Justice to offer a pre-trial support service to witnesses. For the first time, witnesses will be offered the support from the same package as victims, enabling them to give their best evidence at court, improving justice outcomes.
- The Mayor has secured additional funding and responsibilities from the MoJ for the provision of pre-trial support to witnesses, which will improve the service offer available in London and better join up the support available to victims and witnesses.