Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s service for victims and witnesses of crime, Victim First, celebrated its first year of service with a ‘One Year On’ event at Leicestershire Police Force Headquarters in December.
The event brought together organisations from right across the local community; from service users, police and criminal justice organisations to councillors and local authority representatives. Lord Willy Bach, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire opened the event at which Chief Constable Simon Cole was also a key speaker.
Victim First ensures that the needs of the victim and witness are supported at every stage of the justice process by providing advice, access to specialist support and restorative justice options to help victims and witnesses recover from the impact of a crime. The service is commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire.
The service was launched on 1st October 2015 when Catch22, in partnership with Restorative Solutions CIC, was commissioned to provide a free and confidential service for victims and witnesses of crime. The service is accessible for different languages and disabilities and supported a cross-section of the community across age, gender, race and religion; including harder-to-reach communities. In the last year:
- 9,434 victims and witnesses of crime and anti-social behaviour across Leicestershire received support and advice from Victim First.
- Of these, over 2000 victims were provided with tailored support to their needs.
- 85% of the victims confirmed that they were happy with the service.
The audience heard from some of the service-users who had experienced incidents of anti-social behaviour, theft and emotional abuse and had worked with the Victim First team to aid their recovery. All three victims spoke of the importance of the service in supporting them with their emotional needs, as well as providing vital information and advice and the opportunity for restorative justice. One service user detailed the life-changing impact Victim First’s restorative justice service had on improving his emotional well-being and allowing him to move on with his life after the crime.
Chris Wright, Chief Executive at Catch22 said:
“The success of Victim First is down to working in partnership across Leicestershire. We can be incredibly proud of what has been achieved here in only a year. This is down to the tireless work of a fantastic team right across the service – from our restorative justice specialists, case-workers and volunteers, to the victims who are working to make their own and others’ lives better.”
Lord Willy Bach, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire, commented:
“I believe that the services we provide to those unfortunate enough to become a victim is of paramount importance and I believe that we can, and should, do more to help them.
“This is not underestimating the work that has been done, I simply want to enhance the service, make things easier for those in the most stressful of circumstances.
“In the coming months I will talk to victims groups and those providing services to support them, to see how, together, we can shape a better, more all-inclusive service.”
Catch22’s work on restorative justice brings both victims and offenders into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. Catch22 is also currently also working with the Mayor of London and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to collaboratively run a new Pan London restorative Justice Service, Restore:London and in January 2017 will be launching a new victim-led restorative justice service across Nottinghamshire, called Nottinghamshire Victim CARE.