Over the coming weeks the OPCC will be releasing information relating to each of the 12 rights within the Victims’ Code. Each release will cover one or more of the rights.
Right 1: To be able to understand and to be understood
Summary of right 1 – All victims of crime have the right:
- To be helped to understand what is happening and to be understood by service providers e.g. the police, crown prosecution service (CPS) and the courts.
- To be offered translation or interpretation services free of charge (reporting crime, being interviewed, giving witness evidence)
- To be supported by a person of choice provided it would not impact the investigation or prosecution. (If a victim cannot have a person of choice, the police will explain why)
- To receive documents translated where it is essential for interview or court to read a document. (Victims will also have the option to have documents read orally to them where appropriate)
Full details of right 1 can be found by clicking on the link for The Code of Practice for Victims and going to page 12.
It is important for all victims to know that they have the right to make a complaint at any point if their rights under the Victims’ Code have not been met. Full details of the right to make a complaint are in right 12
Local processes in Bedfordshire, how victims can access support, key information and services
In the initial stage of reporting crime to the police via telephone calling 101 or 999 in an emergency, the Police control room have several operators who speak languages other than English such as Urdu, Punjabi, Italian and German. The control room also use a 24-hour interpreter service called ‘Big Word’ who are experienced in dealing with interpreting for police processes.
Reporting crime via the Bedfordshire police website https://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report/Report-Shared/Report-a-concern#rctme web offers the support of the ‘Recite Me’ tool which allows the victim to customise the website to suit various languages, disabilities and other needs. It also has the option of having the text spoken in various languages. There is also an option to us the ‘Web Chat’ function to communicate with an operator and report a crime.
In Bedfordshire interpreters and signers are used throughout the police investigation and court proceedings for verbal and sign language translation. These services must be offered to victims in line with right number 1 of the Code of Practice for Victims.
Bedfordshire is a diverse County and the Police must be able to provide an appropriate level of service to them. The below table provides the top 20 telephone interpretations requested from Big Word during December 2020 for the Bedfordshire police.
The OPCC’s pledge of how we intend to support the implementation of each right
The ‘Recite Me’ tool is used on both the OPCC and Signpost websites allowing the victim to customise the website to suit their needs in aid of language barriers and disabilities. The OPCC website may help victims understand key information relating to Bedfordshire Police and the support available to them. Signpost is an easily accessible pathway to emotional and practical support tailored to the specific need of the victim and other specialist victim services.
We would expect individuals to receive police process information from the police initially. However, Signpost can offer some assistance with helping victim to understand the police investigation and court processes, or facilitate contact to the appropriate person or organisation.
Some rights are appropriate for the OPCC to monitor Bedfordshire Police compliance
OPCC’s are one of many organisations responsible for delivering the rights under the Victims’ Code and therefore police compliance measures are crucial. In relation to right 1 the OPCC can review the efficiency of police processes in place and services used to assist those who require interpreting services or sign language services.
Ongoing projects or work relating to the Victims’ Code being undertaken by the OPCC or collaboratively with criminal justice partners
As part of the Victims’ Needs Analysis recently carried out by the OPCC, 28 recommendations were made with a view to improving the victims’ journey. They relate to further work on cultural reviews and data analysis, process changes, training and awareness programmes, victim support and approach to commissioned services across partnerships new processes. Some of the recommendations are relatable to victims being able to understand and to them being understood.
|Recommendations relating to right 1:
To be able to understand and to be understood
|1||A review of those who report crime to Bedfordshire Police compared to those who have accessed Signpost for victim support.||It is important that victims understand when a crime has been committed, how to report the crime to the police and that there is support available to them. These initial steps lead into the criminal justice process and the victim’s journey to coping and recovering.||Bedfordshire is a diverse county. Looking closely at demographics this work could help us to identify groups of people who may not be reporting crime or receiving support that they need due to reasons such as language, cultural or disabilities-based barriers. We can then work on raising awareness and support for those groups.
|2||Research and review the possibility of a website-based service where victims could log on to receive key updates and information on the police investigation. Including language options.
|Victims have the right to understand the investigation process. Not receiving progress updates after reporting a crime to the police is a key area of dissatisfaction for victims seen in surveys. It is also a right for victims under the Victims Code.||Improving victim’s understanding and confidence in the criminal justice system and ensuring police compliance with the Victims Code. This type of web-based platform could also create capacity for Police Officers to carry out additional work.|
|3||An online service such as ‘Echo’ should be used to collect victim and witness feedback.||Victims have the right to be understood and this includes giving feedback on how the police responded to them and handled their report of crime.||A live update system can be monitored and acted on quickly. Victims could be contacted to resolve issues. Positive and negative feedback can be reviewed by the Police to raise awareness and manage expectations.
Getting support after being affected by crime
If you would like to discuss how you could receive support with coping and recovering from the impact of crime, Signpost can help you. Signpost is free, confidential, available to everyone and is a way for you to find the help that meets your specific needs.
Freephone: 0800 0282 887
(calls are free from landlines and mobiles)
https://www.signpostforbedfordshire.com (self-referral form found in the contact page)