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Bedfordshires Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has celebrated the first anniversary of the Signpost service

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has celebrated the first anniversary of the Signpost service she promised would transform services for those affected by crime in the county - with virtually every client giving a clear vote of confidence in the service and a total of 33,941 actions by its specialist Victim Care Coordinators in its initial year.
 
The Commissioner has announced she is building on the success of Signpost this year by paying for new Domestic Violence Advisors, to work from within Signpost and out in the field with victims, one of whom will be a coordinator for the new Family Drug and Alcohol Courts being established in Luton, to work on a rehabilitation plan with parents with drug and alcohol issues in care proceedings to help them break free of addiction and keep families together.
 
She is also funding two mental health nurses to work in Signpost and support the Force Contact Centre in cases of mental health patients in crisis, who will also liaise with hospitals to drive down the time taken to hand over care of such patients and that lost to police officers from 999 duties in the process.
 
These new specialists will take the investment in Signpost by the PCC from £492,375 in 2018 to 2019 to £554,736 this financial year.
 
Signpost consists of a single online directory of services offering support for victims of different crime types - at signpostforbedfordshire.com - backed by a call centre hub of Victim Care Coordinators, operating six days a week, which was created by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in partnership with Bedfordshire Police. The Signpost website also offers a translation service for those who do not speak English as a first language, supplies a definition of each key crime type and tells the visitor what will happen next if the crime is reported to Bedfordshire Police.
 
Commissioner Holloway said: “When Signpost launched on 1 April 2018, we were aiming to reach at least 9,000 residents who had been impacted by a crime, to offer additional support. Today I can announce that almost 34,000 actions to directly help victims have been delivered in its first year by the outstanding Signpost team.
 
“When I first arrived in this post, I was presented with just 24 separate items of feedback from those who’d used our previous, outsourced service, although clearly others had done so too. I just couldn’t see the proof of what was being offered to victims of crime and, even more importantly, what they themselves thought of the service they’d been given.
 
"Today the Signpost team actively seeks out feedback and it's been extraordinary, reflecting the absolute commitment of our Victim Care Coordinators to spread the word about what is still a very new service to potential users. Those qualifying for support don’t even have to have been the direct victim of a crime themselves, as children, parents, partners and colleagues can all be deeply impacted by a crime.
 
“What's really important to me is that 98 per cent say they’ve been satisfied or very satisfied with the service, 94 per cent tell us they got the information and wider support that they needed and 93 per cent say they feel Signpost had helped them to cope with the impact the crime had on their confidence, which I’m clearly delighted with.
 
“My favourite example was from a disabled gentleman who’d been targeted in a hate crime who told the Signpost team ‘You were there in my darkest hour and helped me turn things around and got me thinking positively - just brilliant’ which clearly speaks of the empathy and dedication of the team."
 
Those impacted by crime in Bedfordshire who were helped by Signpost were reached by its specialist workers in the following ways over the inaugural year of the service:
 
* Letters offering help were sent to 14,250 victims of crime
 
* Signpost staff made at least 200 calls a week to offer support following a crime (11,200 in a year)
 
* 5,041 referrals were made by Bedfordshire Police officers and staff
 
* 723 were referred by partner organisations such as local authorities
 
* 297 service users contacted Signpost directly
 
* 359 were referred by Signpost to other partners
 
* 1,845 received direct support from services to which Signpost referred them
 
* 106 were referred for Restorative Justice (the chance for a victim to confront the offender face to face in a safe setting or by letter) 
 
* 120 victims were sent information about Restorative Justice possibilities
 
* 23 successful cases of Restorative Justice contact by victims were recorded
 
The Signpost call centre can be reached on a confidential free phone number 0800 0282 887. Those answering the phone are not police officers and there is no obligation for someone seeking help to have reported the crime to police, as the Police and Crime Commissioner has a legal duty to offer support services for this group of victims too. The Signpost Hub operates from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.
 
Representatives of organisations who work closely with the Signpost victim care team joined Commissioner Holloway, Signpost team members and management; and Superintendent Liz Mead for the first anniversary celebration on Tuesday (2 April), including representatives from the Prince’s Trust, Anne Frank Trust and Mary Seacole Housing Association.

Kimberley Lamb, Head of Victim Services and Early Intervention Lead at the Signpost Hub, said: “I am really proud of the first class support and care we’ve given victims during our first successful year in helping them cope and deal with the impact of crime. We aim to see this level of support continue next year, especially as we begin to work even closer with partner agencies in encouraging victims to come forward.”

Detective Superintendent Liz Mead added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Signpost Hub, it’s so reassuring to know our victims get the swift support they need to help them recover from the trauma of crime. You don't need to be the victim of a crime to access the Signpost services. We understand that the impact of crime can we far reaching and offer support to witnesses, children, parents, partners and colleagues as they can all be deeply impacted by a crime.”

If you have been affected by crime the Signpost Hub offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred. Contact 0800 0282887 or visit
www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.