New online portals make it easier for victims of crime to receive support.

News
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December 9, 2022

Victims of crime will be able to access help more easily thanks to the launch of two new websites.

County Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has invested in the development of two new online platforms which simplify the process for which victims are referred to support services in the aftermath of crime.  

It is part of a single ‘front door’ approach to victims’ services announced by the Commissioner earlier this year which ensures the needs of victims are assessed centrally and in a timely manner to avoid individuals contacting multiple services. This importantly reduces the need for victims and survivors to have to retell their stories unnecessarily.

The new Durham Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS) website will enable the force and partners to make referrals into the one service. From here, individuals will be directed to the appropriate service that would be best placed to provide support.

People can also self-refer to the service via phone or through using the online platform, regardless of when and where the crime was committed or whether it was reported to the police.

Mark Warcup, VCAS Manager, said “We are delighted that we have been able to launch this website to make it easier for victims of crime to access the support they need in a timely and appropriate manner.

“We know that the people who most need help will often be the most hesitant to contact us, so we hope that the ability to reach out for support through the website will make it that little bit easier and enable us to bridge the gap.”

Meanwhile, a second website for the award winning Community Peer Mentors service, who recently received the Queens Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), has been launched.This enables partners to refer people on to the Community Peer Mentors who are funded by Commissioner Allen. The scheme provides emotional and practical help to vulnerable and isolated people who are impacted by significant life changing events, with the aim of empowering change, reduce vulnerability and provide a voice for the unheard.

This fantastic support is given to anyone whatever their background or circumstances, whether victim, survivor, perpetrator, prison leaver or someone forgotten or neglected by society, including those affected by Anti-Sociable Behaviour, and offering support to those wishing to recover from substance misuse, gambling and additional support for those with mental health problems.

Support is provided via trained volunteers who often have lived experience of the issues affecting clients. Some have even been clients themselves previously. The website will also enable people who wish to become volunteers to apply to join this amazing team, and volunteers can choose if they wish to support people with whatever concerns they may have.

Community Peer Mentors Manager, Jim Cunningham said “This website launch is a big step for Community Peer Mentors in ensuring we are as accessible as possible for those who need us, and to enable people to volunteer across County Durham and Darlington to join our fantastic team.

“The fact that referrals can be made directly through the websites means that our support is much more accessible than previously. It is due to the excellent work and support of our staff and volunteers that means we are able to extend our service in this way.”

Both websites will officially launch on Thursday 1st December.

Unveiling the new websites, Commissioner Allen said: “This is an important milestone in my work to deliver a better and more responsive service to victims of crime.

“I’ve listened carefully to victims and survivors to understand the barriers that prevent them from accessing help and the improvements they believe are vital to make the criminal justice journey – and their recovery – smoother. This is why we have adopted a more streamlined approach to spare victims the distress of contacting multiple agencies and sharing their stories repeatedly.

“I am proud to be at the stage of launching these websites and making the process of referrals much clearer for police, partners and victims themselves. Both portals provide a one-stop shop of help and will shift responsibility for identifying suitable pathways of support to experienced victims’ services workers – not on the victims’ themselves.

“This is all part of my three-year plan to increase trust and confidence in the support we provide and encourage future victims to come forward to report their experiences.”

The websites have been created in conjunction with Dove Design, who can be contacted on www.dovedesign.io.

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