This priority aims to improve services for victims of crime and vulnerable people in contact with the criminal justice service, including victims of: domestic and sexual abuse including so called ‘honour’ based abuse; hate crime; people experiencing mental health crisis who come into contact with the police; child abuse including female genital mutilation; exploitation including children and modern slavery.
Intelligence gaps exist within the Constabulary and this means there are ‘hidden’ victims or ‘hidden demand.’ This applies to people who do not wish to, or are unable to, come forward to either the police or to independent support services who would offer help without the victim needing to report a crime. The Constabulary needs to develop its intelligence and a ‘listening’ culture in its approach. I want to raise awareness of the ‘hidden’ crimes such as child abuse, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery so that as a community we can all begin to recognise the signs that an individual might be at risk.
Effective support services are central to enabling victims to cope and recover. I recently re-commissioned a range of services to support victims and have worked with partners to co-commission some services such as the Sexual Assault Referral Centre and the Child Sexual Exploitation service. I want to continue to work with partners to explore further opportunities around the commissioning of services that meet the needs of our most vulnerable.
I recognise the importance of early intervention and crime prevention, and included an Early Intervention and Prevention Fund as part of the victim services re-commissioned services. Working with NHS England, I have co-commissioned a service in custody and at court to support people with substance misuse and mental health needs, in order to try and prevent them from reoffending. Prevention also plays a critical role in keeping people safe online and there are a number of crime prevention and educational guides available.
Across Avon and Somerset, there are some fantastic examples of organisations coming together and working to provide effective services to some of our most vulnerable. I want to improve victims’ satisfaction with the services they receive. I will work closely with police and partners to ensure that victims experience high quality, joined-up support that is tailored to their needs and that the voice of the victim continues to be heard in the criminal justice service.
Serious and organised crime threatens our security, the economy and causes harm within our local communities. Through effective information sharing between agencies, effective problem-solving and actions using a range of different powers, we will continue to reduce the number of and severity of crimes committed by these groups and ultimately render them inactive.
Recognising the local priorities for local people, I was determined that there should be a centrally-funded and co-ordinated plan; starting in April 2019, Operation Remedy focuses on improving the Constabulary’s performance in relation to offences of residential burglary, knife crime and the illegal supply of drugs.