Citizens affected by crime and anti-social behaviour will now have their interests represented by Birmingham’s first official victims’ champion.
Cllr Jess Phillips will take on the role, announced by Council Leader Sir Albert Bore today (June 20).
Working on a cross-agency basis, Cllr Phillips is being tasked with ensuring that the police, courts and probation services meet the needs of victims. Her role will also see her seek to hold the new Police and Crime Commissioner, to account once elected in November.
Before then, she will serve on the shadow crime panel for the region, ahead of the election.
Cllr Phillips has a wealth of experience of working with victims through her position as a manager of Sandwell Women’s Aid – a charity working with child and adult victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking.
She became a community activist after the residents on her street in Kings Heath became the targets of a series of frightening arson attacks.
Over a month in 2010, several cars were torched outside their homes and people were fearful for their properties and their families.
Cllr Phillips said: “I thought at the time people needed to be informed so I organised a series of meetings with the local police and councillors and made sure that if people had questions they knew where to come for support and answers.
“I saw first hand how important it is for scared victims to have a strong voice and how difficult it is for people to understand the criminal justice process, especially when it takes time and can be disappointing.”
As Victims’ Champion, her overarching aim is to work with all organisations supporting victims of crime, helping to ensure better co-ordination of services and improved publicity and access, so victims find it easier to get the help they need, when they need it.
Cllr Phillips added: “There are some very specialist and valuable organisations supporting victims in Birmingham – they play a critical role in providing help and support to victims of crime and also advocating for their needs.
“Their work is complemented by many smaller, grass roots organisations operating a local level. As Victims’ Champion, my overarching aim is to work with all organisations supporting victims of crime, helping to ensure better co-ordination of services and improved publicity and access, so victims find it easier to get the help they need, when they need it.
“No-one should have to suffer from crime and anti-social behaviour but if they unfortunately do, that pain should not be compounded by poor services from key agencies. I will do my best to ensure victims’ interests come first here in Birmingham.”
A pledge has also been made that the Victims’ Champion will host a round table event involving all agencies with an interest in services for victims and that a Victims’ Rights Charter will be established.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The rights and needs of victims of crime are at the forefront of our approach to tackling crime.
“As our first-ever Victims’ Champion, I am sure Jess will provide an extremely strong voice on this issue and represent Birmingham in a way that will benefit all in the city.”
A photograph of Cllr Phillips can be downloaded here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birminghamnewsroom/7406996902/in/set-72157629845328826
For further media information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621