By Claire West
Victims of crime and antisocial behaviour, including bereaved families, will benefit from additional support in their communities, Home Secretary Theresa May announced today.
New funding of £1 million will be spent across the country to ensure victims and witnesses are given a powerful local voice ahead of the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) next year.
The Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses, Louise Casey, will work in partnership with Victim Support, the national charity for victims, to set up a network of advocates who will:
* hear directly from victims and witnesses about their experiences through public meetings, links with victims' groups, surveys and discussions with residents in high-crime areas;
* look at what is in place to help victims locally, whether victims can access these services and if all the victims that need help are getting it, particularly those who need it most;
* set out what needs to be done locally to better protect and support victims;
* make sure local crime and policing strategies reflect victims' needs and priorities, so that victims have a proper voice locally; and
* advise PCCs on local issues and victims' needs from their introduction in 2012.
The Home Secretary said:
"Crime and antisocial behaviour blights communities and can make people's lives an absolute misery, in some cases leading to tragic consequences.
"I am delighted this money will see victims better represented at a local level ahead of PCCs who will take forward this important work from May next year.
"We are also currently consulting on a new way to tackle antisocial behaviour including giving residents the power to compel local agencies to take action against repeat offenders."
Louise Casey said:
"I am delighted that the Home Secretary has allocated funds of £1 million for prioritising victims - this is a real show of support from the government.
"The role of PCCs has been designed to bring in much needed local accountability on crime and policing and I welcome their clear obligation to represent the needs of victims of crime in the communities they will serve.
"This funding from the Home Secretary allows for the ground to be laid in advance of the arrival of PCCs to gauge what victims experiences are, what services are currently on offer and what more will need to be done.
"I hope that it means PCCs will arrive with the full picture on victims' priorities and can make any changes needed quickly. I believe this will mean that, in future, victims will then have a louder voice around the table of local crime and policing, where in the past it has often been neglected."