Putting victims’ needs first in Tamworth

Thursday, 25th February 2016

A NEW approach to support victims and witnesses of crime in Tamworth is providing a faster and more effective service, Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner says.

The Staffordshire Victim Gateway, a UK first, was launched on 1 September 2015 to place victims back at the heart of the criminal justice system across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and has helped support thousands of people in its first three months.

Supporting victims and witnesses is one of four key priorities in Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis’ Safer, Fairer United Communities strategy for more local and effective policing in the county.

The Citizens Advice Bureau won a three-and-half-year contract from the Commissioner to develop the Victim Gateway which offers free advice and support to victims, witnesses and their families. Staffordshire is the first area in the country to pioneer the new CAB-led approach which is unique because it is based locally, offering a tailored service for victims.

Victims get timely advice and emotional and practical support in the way that suits them best, whether over the phone or face to face, while the service’s opening hours have just been extended to give people even greater access.

Latest figures show, between October and December 11,497 people were offered help through the Victim Gateway.

Mr Ellis said:

“The Victim Gateway is making a real difference supporting not just victims but witnesses as well. If we want people, including victims, to step forward and give up their time to come to court we cannot have a system where they may be let down two, three or four times.

“This is about the way we can put victims’ needs first by making sure the system fits the victim rather than the victim having to fit around the system.”

Simon Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent CAB, said:

“We are delighted that we have been able to offer advice and support to a whole new group of local victims of crime and look forward to working with the PCC to develop the service further in the future.”

Comments from people who have been helped by the Victim Gateway include:

“Thank you for not giving up on me and thank you for caring.”

“Thanks so much, you are the only person that has listened.”

“I can’t thank you enough. You called me at the best time.”

“I would never have known about my entitlements if you hadn’t called me. This money will make a massive difference.”

The Victim Gateway, for the first time, offers support to all victims of crime, even if the crime has not been reported to police. This means the Gateway has the capacity to double the number of people offered help.

Deputy PCC Sue Arnold, who is overseeing the service on behalf of the PCC, said:

“The Staffordshire Victim Gateway is a significant change that fully focuses attention on victims.

“This is about ending a disjointed approach which isn’t good for people across services and avoiding duplication to offer support to victims and witnesses. The Gateway also offers tremendous value for money because of the additional benefits victims experience, such as better accessibility and local knowledge.”

The Victim Gateway’s opening hours have extended to 9.30am to 7.30pm Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 4.30pm on Friday and 10am to 3pm on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays. More information is available at www.staffsvictimsgateway.org.uk or by ringing 0330 0881 339.