Commissioner seeks to help victims of crime with mental health problems
Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg is turning his attention to victims of crime with mental health problems in the criminal justice system after figures show one in four people will experience such problems in any given year.
National reports have highlighted failings across the system and recommended urgent improvements in policy and practice. But now, Ron is setting up the first local conference for professionals to discuss the way forward for people suffering with mental health problems.
The one-off event at Ramside Hall will look at the finding of the national report ‘At Risk, Yet Dismissed’ from the charity Victim Support. He will be outlining his views on the failings of the system alongside one of the authors of the report, Bridget Pettitt.
As Ron explained, people with mental health problems are up to ten times more likely to be a victim of crime than those without mental health problems.
“People with mental health problems need a voice and need to be heard. It’s about time we had in place a system that ensures we get the treatment of people with these problems absolutely right”, he said.
The At Risk, Yet Dismissed project was delivered by Victim Support – Ron now wants a County Durham version of the report to drill down into local problems.
The national report, which took three years to collate, included a number of objectives, including the need for a multi-agency mental health strategy for victims and specialist training for frontline staff.
“There is a lot of work happening locally but we always need to be asking ourselves whether we can do more or what can we do better, with every ones best interests at heart.”
Recently, the PCC’s office was successful in securing funds from the Ministry of Justice’s competed fund to provide Victim Support with the cash to pilot a mental health caseworker and development worker. The caseworker will provide enhanced emotional support and practical support to any victim or witness with mental health issues travelling through the criminal justice system; from the point of the crime to support after a court case has been concluded. The development worker will work with local criminal justice, third sector and health and social care organisations to develop referral pathways across County Durham and Darlington.
Jayne Forman, Lead Witness Service and Specialist Services Manager for Victim Support in the North East said:
“The opportunity to pilot a Mental Health caseworker and development worker role provides a unique opportunity to provide outstanding support to vulnerable victims of crime who are experiencing a mental health crisis as a result of being a victim of crime, a person who has an existing mental health issue which has been exasperated by being a victim of crime or a victim who feels their mental health wellbeing is particularly challenged at this moment in time”.
These new posts will enhance the research into the County Durham and Darlington version of At Risk, Yet Dismissed and follow the County Durham and Darlington specific recommendations that the report will deliver.
The conference takes place at Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham on Friday October 17th.
Posted on Tuesday 14th October 2014