Beacon aims to be a shining light for Herts crime victims as new service launches
- Credit: Archant
A brand new service for victims of crime in Hertfordshire which aims to offer better support for those who need it most will be launched next week.
The Hertfordshire Victim Care Centre will go live from next Wednesday, April 1, and will see Victim Support working alongside the police victim service team.
Operating out of a single base, the new service – which has been branded as Beacon – will provide wraparound provision for victims, with vulnerable or repeat victims being identified early on for extra support.
This free service will be available to all victims of crime, including those who have decided not to report the matter to police, or who have changed their mind about needing support and choose to make contact in the weeks or months after the incident.
And the Victim Support service will remain confidential, for those who don’t want the police involved but still need some help to cope with the aftermath of crime.
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Until last year, Victim Support was commissioned by the government to supply a nationwide service.
But now responsibility for commissioning these services has been transferred over to police and crime commissioners.
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Hertfordshire’s commissioner David Lloyd has overseen a shake-up of the service after a comprehensive consultation to see how it could be extended and improved.
Mr Lloyd said: “The launch of Beacon represents a step change in the level of support victims of crime receive. It will give those who have been strongly affected by their experiences the best possible chance of coping and recovering from their ordeal.
“This is a made-to-measure service for the county, based on what victims have said they want. Victims have told me they want to be heard, they want a single point of contact, they want to be kept up to date on the investigation and they want to be able to access support at any time, not just in the days and weeks following the offence.
“Whether they want to speak to someone for emotional support or practical support, for instance in changing door locks, Beacon will provide a single place which will meet their needs.
“Hertfordshire is leading the way in supporting victims of crime, putting them back at the heart of the criminal justice system.
“It is important to remember that taxpayers will not pay a penny more. The money spent on these services is raised nationally through the victim surcharge imposed by courts on offenders.”
Deputy chief constable Andy Adams said: “Victim care starts at the moment a victim of crime tells someone about it. We hope that that ‘someone’ will be the police, so we can begin an investigation and bring the perpetrator to justice.
“However, we recognise that not everyone will be comfortable reporting a crime, and we are working hard as a service to address this issue. In the meantime, it is very reassuring that victims will get the help, advice and support they need, even if they do not report it to the police straight away.
“I am proud that the force is playing in integral role in the victim care service and I am confident that it will encourage the small number of victims who do not report their crime to do so.”
Heather Robbie, the Hertfordshire manager for Victim Support, said: “We know from helping thousands of victims and witnesses every year just how badly some people can be affected by a crime. That’s why it’s so important that practical and emotional support services are available across the county.
“As an independent charity we continue to give victims of crime a strong voice and make sure they get the help they need and the respect they deserve.
“We will be working closely with the police to identify what each victim needs and then to offer the right help for them. This will mean liaising with mental health, social care and home safety services as well as other providers of support.
“We look forward to working closely with our partners to help victims of crime find the strength to cope and recover.”
The new Beacon website will go live on Wednesday at www.hertfordshirebeacon.org, providing victims with information and advice.
The 0300 011 55 55 hotline will be open daily from 7am to 10pm for victims to contact the centre direct.
Victims who report crimes committed against them to police will automatically be contacted by the centre.
Victims of fraud should continue to report their crime to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040 although they will also be able to get support services by contacting Beacon.