Right 4: To be referred to services that support victims and have services and support tailored to your needs
Summary of right:
- When you report a crime to the police, you have the right to be offered support. This includes an assessment of whether you are entitled to receive the Enhanced Rights. The more information you are able to provide during this assessment, the better, as this will ensure that service providers are able to offer help and support that best meets your needs.
- Throughout your case, all service providers must give you the opportunity to be re-assessed if you tell them how your needs have changed.
- If you are required to attend court to give evidence, you will be offered a separate ‘needs assessment’ by the Witness Care Unit to determine whether you require any further help and support before the trial and at the court.
Referral to services that support victims
- Services that support victims are there to help you cope and, as far as possible, recover after a crime. Access to this support is free, even if the crime hasn’t been reported to the police. For further information about the support in your area, contact your local Police and Crime Commissioner or visit: gov.uk/get-support-as-a-victim-of-crime
- If you report a crime to the police, you have the right to be referred to a service that supports victims, including Restorative Justice services. The police will tell you about all the support services available in your local area. You will be referred to a support service within 2 working days, and these services will endeavour to provide timely access to support based on availability.
- If you choose not to report the crime to the police, you still have the right to access support services at any time. You can contact local support services directly. To search for a support service near you, contact your local Police and Crime Commissioner or visit: gov.uk/getsupport-as-a-victim-of-crime
- If you are a bereaved close relative, you have the right to have a Family Liaison Officer assigned to you by the police, where the Senior Investigating Officer considers this to be appropriate (this will happen in most cases). Your Family Liaison Officer will normally act as the single point of contact between you and service providers. If your case involves an allegation of murder or manslaughter, you also have the right to be referred to the National Homicide Service and any other relevant specialist support service. This offer will usually be made through your Family Liaison Officer.
- Depending on your needs and the nature of your case, you may be offered specialist support, for example from an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor or an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor. Your advisor will normally act as your single point of contact throughout the case and communicate with the police, Witness Care Unit and the Crown Prosecution Service on your behalf.
- If you are required to give evidence in court, you have the right to be offered a referral to a Witness Support Service.
- At the end of your case, regardless of the outcome, you have the right to be offered a referral to a support service even if you haven’t accessed them previously. To search for a service that supports victims near you, contact your local Police and Crime Commissioner.
- You have the right to have your needs assessed by the police or Witness Care Unit to determine whether you are eligible and would benefit from giving evidence using special measures. The police or Witness Care Unit will explain what special measures are available and will ask for your views about which you might like to apply for.
- The judge or magistrate will decide whether special measures should be granted following a request from the prosecutor. The Witness Care Unit will tell you the judge’s or magistrates’ decision and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service court staff will ensure that any special measures granted are available at court.
Local processes in Bedfordshire, key information and support
Bedfordshire Police will refer victims of crime, with consent into Bedfordshire Victim Care Services (BVCS). BVCS is a victim care service which provides practical and emotional support to victims of crime whether reported to the police or not. BVCS can receive referrals from the Police, other agencies and including self-referrals. BVCS is independent from Bedfordshire Police.
Bedfordshire Police provide a service to victims of high-risk domestic assault through their trained officers and Victim Engagement Officers (VEO). Bedfordshire Police’s Emerald Team is responsible for the investigation and drive for an increase in positive outcomes for victims of domestic abuse. Supported by a team of VEO’s, the Emerald team will ensure that the victim receives a high level of tailored support, making use of all the services available to Bedfordshire Police and its partner agencies.
Bedfordshire Police’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Team (RASSO) are specially trained to investigate rape and sexual offences, and to deal sensitively and respectfully with victims.
RASSO’s vision is to investigate, identify and assist in the prosecution of perpetrators to the satisfaction of the victim and community by using the voice of the victim.
Where the RASSO Team is unable to prosecute, it will be their aim to pursue alternative outcomes by working with different partner agencies.
They will ensure that the victim receives a high level of support, making use if all services available to Bedfordshire Police and its partner agencies to support the victim on this journey.
The OPCC’s / Bedfordshire Victim Care Services (BVCS) pledge of how we intend to support the implementation of this right
The OPCC, alongside BVCS, monitor what referrals come into BVCS and can see what percentage of crimes reported are being referred to BVCS, and monitor the trends. If there is a dip in referrals from Bedfordshire Police, BVCS will work tirelessly with them to understand why and educate Officers and Police Staff how to and when to refer a victim into BVCS.
BVCS will do this in a number of ways:
- BVCS have an open-door policy where Officers and Police Staff can visit BVCS to learn about what they do and ask questions.
- BVCS liaise with Bedfordshire Police’s new recruits and express the importance of victim care and how to refer.
- BVCS have produced a video presentation for all Officers and Police Staff which gives an insight into how BVCS can support victims, and what they offer in the way of Restorative Justice and how to refer into BVCS correctly.
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 the rights within the Victims’ Code and they will be detailed in this communication each week.
There is 1 recommendation relatable to right 4
Engaging with victims / witnesses awaiting Court – feedback from victims and witnesses awaiting court must be collated to understand the impact of prolonged waits for hearings and trials during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Echo programme could be utilised to collect this data. However, a proactive and preventative approach should also be taken in attempt to prevent the issue of victims and witnesses disengaging due to long waiting times. Further research is needed to understand whether there is a demand for additional resource to engage with those awaiting court and whether this could be met through Signpost. This should be reviewed by the Local Criminal Justice board (LCJB) and the Business Change and Continuous Improvement Board (BCCIB).
The OPCC are involved in meetings where this recommendation is discussed. Due to the pandemic the waiting times for court dates has risen considerably therefore putting additional strain on witnesses. The Echo Programme is a great way of collecting information from victim and witnesses alike and conversations are ongoing as to how and when Bedfordshire Police can implement this.
The Echo Program will have huge benefits for Bedfordshire Police. Echo will give an arcuate understanding of how Bedfordshire’s victims who have reported a crime to the police feel and provide vital feedback to help improve the victims journey.
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, BVCS can help you. BVCS is free, confidential, available to everyone and is a way for you to find the help that meets your specific needs.
Contact: Bedfordshire Victim Care Services
Freephone: 0800 0282 887
(calls are free from landlines and mobiles)
https://www.bedfordshirevcs.com/ (self-referral form found in the contact page)
Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm
Saturday: 9am – 5pm
Closed bank holidays. Out of hours you can leave a voicemail and we will call back.