A support service funded by County Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen to help victims of crime is delivering huge improvements to health and wellbeing, new figures show.
Results from the first three months of this year show free and confidential support provided by the Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS) is having a marked difference on the confidence and mental health of those who have accessed help.
The service, which helps victims cope with the immediate impact of crime and assists in their subsequent emotional and physical recovery, is available to everyone – regardless of whether a crime is reported to the police or not.
It was recently brought in-house under the direct management of Commissioner Allen to enable her to provide better oversight of the system and deliver a smoother referral process offering victims a ‘single front door’ to help.
Between April and June this year, a total of 246 cases were closed after support was provided.
Of these cases, 178 victims took up the offer of help to address their fears over safety and were provided with dummy CCTV, door chimes, window and personal alarms, shed alarms and security lights. Further support included crime prevention advice and site surveys, coping strategies around checking CCTV and door locks and safety planning advice.
As a result of the interventions, 92 percent of the victims reported feeling safer through the VCAS support.
Additionally, 151 victims reported issues with health and wellbeing as a result of their experience of crime, ranging from anxiety, depression and panic attacks as well as trouble sleeping and 159 victims reported concerns around lifestyle, reporting issues with housing, finance and benefits and problems at university, work, school or college.
VCAS provided a range of positive interventions from coping strategies and distraction techniques to support around self-harm and suicidal thoughts and referrals to other specialist support agencies. The service also supported victims with their housing applications and initiated contact with landlords, signposted to services such as Citizens Advice and communicated with educational staff and victims’ employers to increase understanding of the victim’s position.
As a result, 90 per cent of victims reported an improvement in their health and wellbeing and 91 per cent of victims said there had been improvement in their lifestyle, often saying they ad been able to return to doing things they did prior to being victimised.
Commissioner Allen said: “These results show very clearly how vital our support services have become in the recovery journey. I am delighted that more than nine in ten of those whose cases have recently concluded are highly satisfied with the improvements in their lives they have experienced. This is testament to the committed and compassionate professionals working on the ground.
“In the first three months of this financial year, more than 1900 referrals were received by the service. I am impressed that both officers and partner services are continuing to recognise vulnerability and ensuring that victims have instant access to the help and support they need at the earliest opportunity.
“Protecting victims of crime is a top priority and this feedback shows we are on the right road. I am determined to build trust and confidence in the support services we provide so we can continue to make a positive impact on people’s lives and encourage other victims to come forward in future. I will continue to monitor performance and service provision to make sure we maximise the variety and quality of help we offer.”
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