Service to help victims of crime praised

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.

A new service for victims of crime introduced by Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has been described as ‘very professional’ and performing ‘exceeding well’ by the people who have benefited from it.

Users of Victims First Northumbria also say the service, which has been running for a month, has stood by its word by making contact as promised, plus has shown consideration and support in their cases with people who have ‘really listened’.

Launched on April 1, Victims First Northumbria puts victims at the heart of its service. They are given a care coordinator and partnership work is carried out with police and other partner agencies, giving a more streamlined process and co-ordinated support.

The service, which is being registered as a charity, ensures victims of crime, whether referred by police, by another agency or coming themselves to Victims First, are contacted by the care coordinator who will give them help and support to cope and recover from their experience.

It offers support throughout the whole criminal justice process giving people an important single point of contact they can regularly go to for help.

Referrals to Victims First are primarily made via Northumbria Police, however, they can also be made by individuals, agencies and other police forces through a secure email address.

Self-referrals can also be made by people who don’t report a matter to police, but do feel they need support from the service.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird said: “I introduced Victims First Northumbria to ensure victims in our region received the highest quality service, helping them with all their needs and providing outstanding support for them.

“It’s so encouraging and heartening to see the service making a real difference to those who need help and support when they have been a victim of crime. We’ve had calls from people who have found the service has helped them through what can be a devastating time in their lives. It has also helped them deal with the day-to-day difficulties of rebuilding their lives and solving the practical difficulties many face.

“Our staff are highly skilled in pulling together the different agencies who can offer the necessary professional advice tailor-made to fit individual needs. Often these cases are complex, people may need support with housing, finance and medical matters, as well as help to attend court, all at a time when they may be emotionally and physically exhausted as a result of being a victim of crime.

“Our staff are determined that their clients should feel their needs are being addressed and that they get the help they need to start to move forward in a positive way after suffering crime.

“In its first two weeks, Victims First Northumbria helped more than 550 people and the praise it has received from users already shows just how well it is working. With the excellent team of victim care coordinators, I’m confident the service will go from strength to strength.”

For more information on Victims First Northumbria, visit the website or contact the service’s dedicated Freephone number, 0800 011 3116.

For advice on domestic abuse issues, contact the National Centre for Domestic Violence (24-hour helpline) on 0844 8044 999.