Signpost - the service introduced by Bedfordshire PCC, Kathryn Holloway, to support victims of crime across the county - has worked with 1,427 victims from the beginning of lockdown (23 March to 30 September 2020).
Victims are referred into the Signpost service by police officers and partner agencies after being assessed as requiring extra support and self-referrals from the public are also welcomed on a confidential freephone number 0800 0282 887. Signpost also offers a route to appropriate high quality support organisations, depending on the crime type, to those affected by a crime who are not the main victim, such as parents, children and partners.
Specialist Victim Care Co-ordinators (VCCs) answer the helpline, not police officers and it is not necessary to have reported a crime to police to access help.
Commissioner Holloway said: “The impact of crime isn't just emotional, our expert VCCs also help victims deal with practical problems such as damage to property, by working with partner agencies on the victim’s behalf to get repairs done and make properties secure. They quite literally signpost them to help accessing compensation for criminal injuries as they understand the journey through the Criminal Justice system and have vital contacts within it.
“Signpost’s Care Coordinators aim to contact a victim of crime within 24 hours of it being recorded by Bedfordshire Police, by letter or phone, and the service was recognised this year by the police watchdog - Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) - as “notable practise” to be recommended to all police forces.
“If someone doesn’t want to speak to a Care Coordinator and wants to refer themselves directly to specialist counsellors or a support charity, they can find the information on the website which backs up the call centre, at signpostforbedfordshire.com,” said the PCC.
Signpost has also been supporting victims of crimes linked specifically to the pandemic, such as those experiencing ‘romance fraud’ who have been duped out of savings to extend a loan to those meeting them on dating websites. Signpost staff have been urging members of the public - through their social media campaigns - to reach out for support if they suspect they themselves or a family member, friend or colleague is being targeted or has been affected by this crime and would benefit from talking through the options available.
Simon Powell the Head of Victim Care at Signpost said: “As an essential service provider, I am passionate and proud that we have been able to give support to Bedfordshire’s victims of crime and that Covid-19 has not got in the way. We have worked hard to still be able to provide telephone care and support while re-arranging working conditions to meet the restrictions of the pandemic. Our partners have faced similar issues and we are very grateful for their continuing efforts in delivering such care to those who need it the most.”
If you have been affected by a crime, Signpost 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 0282 887 or visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com for further information.
“Please reach out to those who may not see this publication or view updates and campaigns on social media to make them aware that Signpost is here to help anyone affected by crime in this county and is waiting for their call,” said Commissioner Holloway.