Report praises Thames Valley Police’s approach to domestic abuse
A new report has praised a pilot scheme aiming to improve the outcomes for domestic abuse victims in the Thames Valley.
Thames Valley Police has been working closely with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service to decrease the time in which domestic abuse cases are listed to be heard at Aylesbury Crown Court.
The report aimed to examine the effectiveness of the pilot in improving the efficiency with which domestic abuse cases are managed in the crown court. It also looked at identifying areas of potential improvement and to explore the merits of rolling out this initiative nationally. Both victims and offenders were interviewed to seek their views on the scheme.
During the trial period the report examined, from October 2016 to November 2018, a total of 153 cases of domestic abuse were subject to the protocol. Fifty nine of the 153 cases met the criteria for fast tracking and of these cases more than 83 per cent resulted in a guilty plea. On average it took eight days between a person being charged and their first court hearing.
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Victims First Celebrates One Year Anniversary
Victims First, a service which supports victims of crime across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, celebrated its one year anniversary in March.
Victims First was launched by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley. The service offers free emotional and practical support to all victims and witnesses of crime or abuse across the Thames Valley as well as family members of victims. Victims can receive support regardless of when the crime took place or whether they have chosen to report the crime to the police.
Within its first year Victims First has dealt with over 18,000 referrals into its service for victims of all crime types including theft, burglary, fraud, rape and sexual assault, criminal damage and domestic abuse. Referrals were received across all age groups with over 6,000 referrals for victims aged under 25 and nearly 3,500 referrals for victims aged over 60.
The type of assistance available to victims includes telephone and face to face support, advocacy including help to access other services such as sexual health clinics, drug and alcohol services and legal services, support through the criminal justice system (if victims have reported the crime to the police) and therapeutic counselling.
Almost 2,000 victims referred to Victims First went on to receive additional support. Over half received support from the Victims First Emotional Support Service, with others referred to other services including services for victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse, a young victims service which works with anyone under the age of 18 and a service supporting victims of exploitation and complex needs.
Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner said “I am delighted to celebrate Victims First’s one year anniversary.
“We know the effects of crime can be devastating with some victims struggling to move on with their lives, so when we launched Victims First we wanted to improve services for victims and remove the barriers and confusion experienced in accessing support. One year on I believe we are doing that. Victims suffering from the effects of any crime can contact Victims First and speak to a Victims First Officer who will listen to them and offer support to meet their individual needs.
“I am pleased at the number of people we have been able to support in this first year and I look forward to the year ahead where the service will continue to evolve and improve.”
Anyone affected by crime who needs support can contact Victims First on 0300 1234 148 or make an online referral at www.victims-first.org.uk.
Voluntary organisations awarded over £100,000 to support policing and crime priorities
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld and Chief Constable Francis Habgood have awarded voluntary and community organisations £100,700 from the Police Property Act Fund.
The fund, which is jointly managed by the PCC and the Chief Constable, is created from money recovered by the police and the proceeds from the sale of items that cannot be returned to identified owners, including seizures from criminals.
There were 116 applications to the current funding round with 32 organisations successful in receiving funding of between £1000 – £6,000 to support the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan strategic priorities of Vulnerability, Prevention and Early Intervention.
The successful projects receiving funding support a range of issues including mental health, youth crime prevention work, homelessness, and hidden harm, such as elder abuse, hate crime and peer on peer abuse. 10 of the successful projects cover the whole of the Thames Valley, 10 are focused in Berkshire and 6 in both Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley said “The voluntary sector play a valuable role across the Thames Valley and I am pleased to be able to provide funding from the Police Property Act Fund to support a range of projects working to prevent crime and support some of the most vulnerable groups within our communities. This is an excellent way of using this funding and I look forward to seeing the outcomes.”
Francis Habgood, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police said “I am delighted that we have been able to support voluntary groups across our three counties with additional funding. Using money seized from criminals and from the sale of items that cannot be returned to owners in this way can make a real difference to our communities. The projects will all help to support the most vulnerable people in society and to reduce the risk of future harm.”
For a full list of organisations awarded funding, please see Police Property Act Fund donations 2018-2019