Retendering the victim support services contract
PCCs are responsible for the commissioning of victim support services within their force area.
Martyn Underhill was an early adopter, first awarding a contract in 2014 to Victim Support for three years and subsequently taking up options to extend for a further two years. The re-tendering process for this contract therefore began in October 2019.
Throughout 2019, the OPCC for Dorset carried out a tender process for the commissioning of support for victims across Dorset.
As part of the tender process, the OPCC undertook market engagement to encourage providers to come forward to bid for the contract. The market engagement was also designed to encourage collaboration between smaller support organisations to develop service provision for victims of crime throughout Dorset.
August 2019 saw the end of the tender process and the OPCC recommissioned Victim Support to run the support for victims of crime service for another three years. The £1.6m contract, which started on October 1 2019, means the charity will continue to provide practical and emotional support to people affected by crime.
Victim Support will also provide an enhanced service for victims of ‘standard’ risk domestic abuse, which will include support from a dedicated caseworker, over the phone or in person, for as long as the victim requires. Specialist teams within Dorset Police, Dorset Council and BCP Council provide separate support services for victims of higher risk domestic abuse.
Although the charity has provided support to domestic abuse victims in Dorset previously, they will now have a larger team dedicated to working specifically with people affected by this crime. Victim Support will be establishing new group support sessions for domestic abuse victims and setting up drop in services across the county to ensure support is accessible for all.
Martyn Underhill became the first PCC in the country to award a local victims’ contract when Victim Support was commissioned to provide the service in 2014. Since 2014, the OPCC has worked closely with Victim Support to develop the services to victims of crime.
In 2018/19, Victim Support Dorset created 16,600 cases from referrals from Dorset Police. Any new victim of standard risk domestic abuse crime is offered emotional and practical support delivered by Victim Support. The support they provide is free, confidential, and tailored to meet the victim’s needs, enabling the victim to re-build their lives and cope and recover from the impact of crime.
Victims of crime have praised the support they have received in Dorset, with feedback including:
“My caseworker was very helpful. She gave me her office phone number, and I felt more connected. I felt I could reach someone who understood my situation, meaning I didn’t have to revisit it whilst explaining to someone else. She helped me rationalise my thoughts.”
“My support worker was amazing. He called every time he said he would and really went the extra mile for me. He didn’t rush any conversations and spent plenty of time with me.”
“Victim Support have been great – I couldn’t have got through it without them.”
The OPCC meets regularly with Victim Support to monitor service delivery, improve processes and identify further opportunities.