From 1st April 2015 the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner has changed the way victims are supported in Northumbria. 'Victims First Northumbria' is an independent victim referral service. The service will be registered as a charity, it will ensure victims of crime, whether referred by police, by another agency or coming themselves to Victims First, are contacted by a co-ordinator who will give them help and support to cope and recover.
Victims will be assigned to a single personal adviser and partnership work will be carried out with police to avoid duplication, give a more streamlined process and co-ordinated support.
Being a victim of crime can be traumatic and Victims First Northumbria understands the impact is not only on the victim, but can extend to parents, siblings, children, partners and even close friends. There is a wide range of fantastic services in Northumbria, for example through local authorities and the voluntary and community sector, which we will reach out to for any specialist support that's needed.
Victims First will understand the different needs required by people using the service. Some may have suffered deep psychological or emotional trauma; some may be vulnerable or suffer from a particular disability; people from particular ethnic groups may need culturally sympathetic support; people of different ages will have different needs to each other; some cases are more complex than others. Whoever the victim, and whatever the crime they have suffered, they will always be put first and given the best service possible. We aim to have a range of talents within Victims First to make sure this happens.
Volunteers also form part of Victims First. On some occasions, the victim and care co-ordinator may agree a volunteer is what is needed to help them through their experience. Some victims may not reach out for help until further down the line. Victims First are there to cater for those later needs as well as offer practical help such as crime prevention advice.
Vera Baird QC, Northumbria PCC said "As well as helping victims to cope and recover from their experience, Victims First is here to empower victims of crime who can turn into strong survivors. Sometimes people are strengthened by triumphing over the experience and become better able to take forward their own lives. When I was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner, you told me you wanted me to put victims first. I ensured this was always at the forefront of the Chief Constable's operational strategy by including it as a priority in my Police and Crime Plan. Victims First is another step towards achieving our objectives and giving the most vulnerable in our communities the best possible support, care and advice."