INNOVATIVE ways of helping victims of crime on Wearside have been boosted by a £300,000 grant which will fund specialist support and new technology.
The money, secured by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, comes from a £12.5million fund for innovation for communities across England and Wales, announced by Victims Minister Damian Green.
The cash will pay for specialist domestic violence and sexual assault (DVSA) teams – one in Sunderland and another in Newcastle – as well as a support worker for missing children.
Clare Philipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, said: “We are obviously delighted at this announcement. It will make a massive difference to victims of domestic violence and sexual crime.
“We are delighted that we are going to be working in partnership with Northumbria Police to bring in innovative proposals to reduce crime.”
The DVSA teams will be dedicated response units including a police officer and a DVSA support worker, likely to be from a local refuge or other specialist group and will work at peak times of Friday and Saturday.
They will attend calls together about domestic violence and sexual assault, increasing the level of access to support at the scene, to give better victim satisfaction and build confidence, with the further aim of increasing prosecutions.
Additionally, new technology can be made available, providing victims with instant access to police support wherever they are. Ms Baird said: “We know domestic violence cannot be tackled by any one agency or organisation, and that the best way to protect victims and prosecute perpetrators is for these agencies and organisations to work closely together.
“Police are helping victims to get the help they need, but the dynamics of DVSA can be complex and the advisor who attends the calls with them can act as a consultant and help them with action and safety planning.
“Whatever support people need or want, short or long term, this will offer them a first introduction to the right people to help them to move on.”
Announcing the funding Mr Green said: “The excellent and innovative ideas put forward for this fund show exactly why PCCs are best placed to understand the needs of their local communities, and commission the majority of victims’ services.
“I’ve no doubt they will make a difference to victims up and down the country.”
The £12.5million comes from additional receipts from offenders, raised through the victim surcharge in court and financial penalties, including fixed penalty notices.
The Ministry of Justice asked PCCs across the country to bid for money to support victims of the most serious crimes, persistently-targeted victims and intimidated or vulnerable victims.