SUSSEX’S police and crime commissioner (PCC) has pledged to make sure the “best” services are available for victims and witnesses of crime.
PCCs across England and Wales will be responsible for commissioning support services from October.
Sussex PCC Katy Bourne will oversee a budget of some £1.7 million, currently managed by the government.
The Conservative politician lists as a priority for next year “ensuring that the best services are commissioned for victims, witnesses, and their families across Sussex and Surrey”, in her recent end-of-year report.
Her office is spending an advertised £41,000 of the new budget on a new victims and witnesses business manager - “to support the commissioner in delivering these vital services for local people”, an office spokesman said. The spokesman added: “This will include commissioning a model for initial assessment, referral and first response as well as ensuring the provision of specialist support services across the county.”
Conservative Brad Watson, who chairs the Sussex Police and Crime Panel, said Ms Bourne was “particularly focused” on victim support.
He said: “She recognises that there should be a much better experience, much better support, for victims.”
PCCs will take over the new responsibilities in phases from October 2014 to October 2015.
The Ministry of Justice plans to continue to manage rape support centres, a service for victims of trafficking, a homicide service, and court-based witness service.
It will also provide some national telephone helplines and some domestic and sexual violence services.
The Government said it makes sense for most victim services to be commissioned locally, but this may be inefficient for less frequent crimes.
The new victims’ manager post is one part of restructuring inside the PCC’s office as it adapts to “new and emerging responsibilities”.
A spokesman said the office would need 14 full-time-equivalent posts, compared to 11.8 at the moment, not including the roles of chief executive and chief finance officer.
Ms Bourne has also stressed she will continue to work with Sussex’s Criminal Justice Board on restorative justice “to better support victims and contribute towards reduced reoffending”.
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