PCC promises better listening for victims in Gwent
4:02pm Saturday 7th September 2013 in News
THE ASSISSTANT chief constable for Gwent police has admitted the failings of the force to victims of crime, as a new charter pledges to offer better support.
Police and Crime commissioner, Ian Johnston, launched the Victim’s Charter along with representatives from Gwent Police and Victim Support, to ensure victims are given the best standard of service and support possible.
Assistant Chief Constable Lorraine Bottomley, who spoke at the launch yesterday morning, said: “I acknowledge we haven’t always got it right.
“We are changing as an organisation. Now victims are at the centre of what we do. It’s about listening to what you want."
The charter outlines ten minimum standards victims can expect when they are involved in the Criminal Justice process in Gwent.
Mr Johnston said: “Of course we should be doing that. But are we doing that?”
Mrs Bottomley admitted the way police operate is not always the best suited for a victim. She explained they would simplify and streamline the process for victims so they deal with fewer officers and on their terms. Victims will also be kept up to date on the holding of personal property.
She said: “The service has become overcomplicated.
“We don’t give you feedback when you want and how you want it.”
The charter is a result of both the commissioner’s office and the police force finding problems with the victims’ services.
Mrs Bottomley said: “It had been raised by both sides so it had to be an issue.”
The charter does not give specific details of what would be an ‘appropriate time’ or a ‘relevant question’ but as Mrs Bottomley explains, this is for the individual victims to decide.
“It’s for the victims to tell us what they want.”
Mr Johnston addressed the audience of councillors, police officers and member of third-sector agencies by highlighting the problem of public confidence in police.
He said: “From my meetings with lots of communities across Gwent, there is a feeling that there is a disconnect with the police. “
This charter is testament to Mr Johnston putting victims at the top of his priority list as PCC. He assured this was a long-term strategy that would be assessed over the next 12 months through victim surveys.
He said: “This is not a tick in the box. This is for real. This is where we are going until May 2016.
“If I find there are bits in here that certain agencies aren't following, I will be doing something about it.”
Baroness Helen Newlove, victim’s commissioner for England and Wales, who spoke as a victim of a crime herself, was also at the launch.
She praised the work of the Gwent commissioner and said: “Victims at last have someone with real authority on their side at a local level.”
Mandy Wilmot, Victim Support divisional manager for Wales, expressed her delight at the opportunity seized by the PCC to bring all organisations and agencies in victim services together.
Mr Johnston said: “I’m confident and I’m determined. People in Gwent always come up to the challenge. All we need to do is get it more joined up.”
From October 2014, all money for victim services from the home Office will come directly to the Commissioner's office. The PCC's office has put together a commissioning board to decide where the money should go.
The charter is available to the public at gwent.pcc.police.uk/victims
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