From today, the first group of Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales take on responsibility for commissioning support services for victims and witnesses of crime.

The majority commence overseeing victim services from 1st April 2015. Previously, the majority of victims’ services nationally were funded by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

On June 17th 2014, Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill made history as the first PCC in the country to commission a local service for victims. Victim Support was contracted by the Dorset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to provide an enhanced service to the county’s victims for the next three years. That contract comes into effect today.

The independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime will continue to provide confidential support and free advice until 2017 with a new and innovative approach to the service. The phased programme will include the introduction of a 24hr helpline for victims of crime and additional support for victims of antisocial behaviour and business crime. The size of the Victim Support team in Dorset will also double.

Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said: "This new contract is really exciting and is about putting the focus back on victims rather than the offender, supporting them through their whole journey and not just on the day of the crime. I am really proud that we are the first in the country to award this contract. This will make the victim’s journey easier and hopefully shorter.”

Rhiannon Evans, Victim Support Divisional Manager for Dorset, said: “This new contract gives us the opportunity to provide a more enhanced service to victims and to reach out to many more victims than we have been able to in the past.  We know from helping thousands of victims and witnesses across Dorset every year how often people affected by crime need help to move on and this new service will give them the practical and emotional support they need. We look forward to working closely with the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner, the new Dorset Victims’ Bureau and our partners in other charities across the county to help victims find the strength to cope and recover."

Victim Support is the independent charity for victims and witness of crime in England and Wales. Last year it offered help to more than 1 million victims of crime and supported more than 200,000 witnesses as they gave evidence at criminal trials through its Witness Service. It also provides the Homicide Service supporting relatives bereaved by murder and manslaughter and runs more than 100 local projects. It is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.

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