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.
Protecting the vulnerable is not the responsibility of a single organisation in isolation, and with increased pressure on all of our resources it is imperative that the Constabulary and our partners come together to understand the pressures which we are all facing. We cannot provide effective support without first identifying victims. This is particularly relevant online with the increase in cyber-enabled exploitation and grooming. I would like to see further development of innovative approaches such as predictive analytics which will allow for a better understanding the pressure placed upon our services.
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. Effective information sharing and use of intelligence will allow the Constabulary and our partners to safeguard the vulnerable and disrupt those who target and exploit them.
Effective support services are central to enabling victims to cope and recover. I want to work with our partners to explore opportunities around the commissioning of services which meet the needs of our most vulnerable. I would also like to learn from innovative approaches, such as the Icelandic Barnahus model which provides a child-centred response to sexual abuse.
At the heart of high quality effective services are staff and officers who are well trained and work within a culture which is continuously learning and evolving.
I want to see the Constabulary learning from inspections and implementing recommendations for improvement, and to work with our partners to explore opportunities for joint training which will provide further understanding about the needs of our most vulnerable. In particular, I would like to see continued development of local responses to national strategies such as the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat. In addition I want to see an end of the inappropriate use of police custody for those experiencing mental health crisis.
Many of the areas covered by this priority are still hidden and that is something I am committed to change. I want to raise awareness of crimes such as child sexual exploitation so that as a community we can all begin to recognise the signs that a child might be at risk. I want to ensure we highlight the many ways in which people can report their concerns and the routes victims can take if they wish to report.
Alongside this, organisations will need to increase engagement with vulnerable communities and those at risk from harm. I will continue to push, both locally and nationally, to make Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) statutory so that our children are educated about healthy relationships and empowered to speak out.
Only supporting victims will not prevent further crimes being committed; disrupting offenders and bringing them to justice is also key. Through the roll out of technology such as body worn videos to all officers and PCSOs I want to see a focus on evidence-led prosecutions, which should mean more offenders are convicted.