Government proposals threaten future of victim support services
SIR – The Government recently launched a consultation into the future of services to support victims and witnesses of crime.
While it contains some positive ideas, one of the cornerstone proposals could have a very significant and damaging effect on the help that is on offer to those affected by crime in Welwyn Hatfield.
If these proposals go ahead as they stand, current services provided by Victim Support in Welwyn Hatfield could end. Instead the new police and crime commissioner for Hertfordshire, due to be elected in November, would have control of a small local budget to arrange help for victims and witnesses as he or she sees fit.
As a volunteer with the Victim Support Service for more than four years I know all too well the vital difference the current service makes to people affected by crimes ranging from burglary through to rapes and murders.
Help is available to any victim or witness who needs it, but the new proposal could mean that lots of people miss out altogether on support if the local commissioner does not consider their needs a priority.
The commissioner’s budget for services is also likely to be taken up by the inevitable bureaucracy of arranging and managing local grants.
The national quality safeguards that Victim Support provides are also at risk of being lost.
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To help protect local services I’d urge everyone to make their views known to the Government.
There is more information about this consultation online at www.homeoffice.gov.uk/police/police-crime-commissioners