POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER FOR BEDFORDSHIRE
Title and Reference – PCC/D/098
Subject: Allocation of funds to Children and Young Persons (CYP) Victim Care Coordinator Roles
Report of: Police and Crime Commissioner
It is recognised that there is a need for support provision for children aged 18 years and under to receive support as a victim of any crime type (excluding DA and SV for which specialist services are already commissioned), whether the crime had been reported to the police or not. The service will support young people under 18 with practical and emotional support who have been affected by crime and children and young people under 13 who have been affected by crime and have consent from a parent or guardian.
This service will be established as a pilot for 2 years and will be resourced by two CYP Victim Care Co-ordinators to be seconded in to Bedfordshire Victim Care Service. This initial period of two years will allow for retention of staff but allow flexibility to establish and respond to demand trends and to test the model of insourcing this resource.
It is anticipated that these roles will be graded as SO1.
The grant agreement provided to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) stipulates that funded services must be commissioned to support all victims of crime regardless of the crime type when the crime occurred or whether it has been reported to police.
At present there is no provision funded through the OPCC for young victims of crime outside of specialist sexual violence and domestic abuse services. When looking at the profile of crime affecting children and young people in Bedfordshire the most common crime type is violence without injury and violence with injury which accounted for 60% and 20% of crimes recorded in 2021-22.
The Victims Code of Practise states that services must be available to all victims, inclusive of children and young people. Within Bedfordshire, the current multicrime service only supports adults aged 18 years old and over, there is a need to recognise and support children and young people by allowing them to receive support and if they choose to, report in confidence.
In the year 2021/22 a total of 4,292 crimes against under 18’s were recorded by Bedfordshire police; the spread of ages is shown in the below graph. It should be noted that this is highly likely to be an underrepresentation as for 9,762 records of Athena no victim age was recorded. Furthermore, research by the University of Bedfordshire and Victim Support reports that children and young people are less likely to report a crime to the police but are more likely to experience crimes than adults, suggesting a majority of children and young people are not supported following the crime they experience. Research suggests that only 1 in 8 child victims will come to the attention of statutory agencies, with 1/3 of victims only realising that they were a victim when they reached adulthood.
It is known that children are less likely to engage with the police due to fear of repercussions and stigma regarding social services and children services. It also may be the case that they may not be aware that what they have experienced is a crime, particularly if the offender is a trusted adult. In addition, those around them such as teachers may not have the confidence to raise concerns.
In 2021 an information sharing agreement was introduced allowing PCCs and Chief Constables to understand disproportionality of children in their local area ensuring that local initiatives can therefore be funded to address this. The multicrime CYP support will offer a pan Bedfordshire approach ensuring that child victims across Bedfordshire are not disproportionality affected as a result of their experience.
Lastly, the Youth Endowment Fund have stated evidence of services that work and have highlighted gaps where children are not supported as well as they should be.
The Youth Endowment Fund advised there is evidence to support that mental health and therapeutic interventions are effective.
The Police and Crime Plan, under priority 4 states a commitment to the Victims Code of Practice states that any vulnerable victims of crime have enhanced entitlements and must be supported accordingly. Due to age, any victim aged under 18 is considered to be a vulnerable victim and therefore would require an enhanced service, yet currently there are significant gaps in support provision for this group.
With a focus on child sexual exploitation, the Police and Crime Plan states that young people deserve to feel safe, and the PCC will ensure the right resources are available to support them.
Partnership work will form a key part of the delivery as Bedfordshire Victim Care Service signpost victims to supporting services. Bedfordshire Victim Care Services will develop working relationships with services that support children and young people and have the relevant specialisms.
The job specifications for the CYP Victim Care Co-ordinators will mirror those of other VCC’s in the Bedfordshire Victim Care Service but with necessary service adjustments and specialisms. Given the above it is considered both resource and time efficient that the staffing model be extended to include up to 2 FTE CYP victim care co-ordinators, rather than for CYP support to be outsourced. The benefits of this approach are that a lengthy procurement process that would see a further 12-month delay before vital support to children can be delivered would be avoided.
Consideration was given to outsourcing this project to an organisation that specialises in support for child victims, however given the existing managerial and supervisory structures and the working relationship with Bedfordshire Police, allowing referrals to be pulled directly from policing systems, expansion of BVCS was seen as the most appropriate method of mobilisation, therefore secondment of the capability into BVCS is seen as most advantageous.
In Bedfordshire it is recognised that children and young people are already supported by BVCS vicariously through their parents, and where relevant children and young people are referred on to partner agencies such as Embrace for support from KIDVA and KISVA roles. It is anticipated that the introduction of this pilot will enable a child or young person to receive practical and or emotional support in their own right, bridging the gap between practical support that may be available to their parent or guardian available via BVCS and the practical and emotional support available via the KIDVA/KISVA service which is commissioned in Bedfordshire via various local partners.
It is proposed that this secondment opportunity is shared with Embrace Child Victims of Crime as they have the expertise and capability to deliver a service of this ilk. The secondment would be managed via BVCS, and the 2 posts would be recruited to sit with the BVCS team at their location in Bedford.
Given capacity within Embrace, it is proposed that a path finder team will be developed within Embrace, uplifting existing staff capability from their team in Cambridgeshire to initiate the referral pathway into BVCS. It is proposed that expenses would be covered as well as the wages for these staff to initiate the service in Bedfordshire while recruitment takes place to recruit up to 2 CYP Victim Care Coordinators on a fixed term contract for the remainder of the pilot.
To note decision
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner
I hereby approve the recommendations above.