Victims First, a service which supports victims of crime across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, celebrates its one year anniversary today (26/3).
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