Cllr Jess Phillips, Birmingham’s Victims’ Champion, blogs on this week’s announcement by the Home Office that Police and Crime Commissioners will be given a share of £50million nationally to support victim services after they are elected…
It was hugely encouraging to hear the Government is following our lead here in Birmingham and taking the needs of victims seriously.
We need to look at the finer points of the plan but my main request would be for the city to get its fair share of the pot.
I fully accept that resources are finite but it is only right that police force areas are allocated funding according to need. I welcome clarification to this effect in the coming weeks and months.
Whatever money the Commissioner receives needs to be used for innovative approaches to victims’ services, designed in consultation with both victims and support organisations.
This is one area where a top-down approach does not work. We need to ensure the victim always comes first when they have been affected by crime or anti-social behaviour, so I will push for this to happen when planning how to spend the money.
In austere times, innovation is essential. Whether we like it or not, public bodies have to do more for less.
The funding must not, under any circumstances be used to plug gaps within the crime-fighting budget for front-line police activities. It needs to be used as an extension to the cash spent on victim support services.
We should be encouraging innovation and pilot projects to supplement and enhance services that may face reductions in future community safety budget cuts. If there are fresh and better ways to support those in need, we must consider them.
Doing things the same way we always have will not solve the issues that have been faced for decades. There is a chance to make a change for the better and this opportunity must not be lost.
I also believe that all money raised from the perpetrators of crime through the Victims Surcharge should be used to fund services to the victims of crime.
It is important for victims and communities to feel that justice is served and this funding could go some way to help victims feel that something is being paid back to them.
As the victims champion I will be driving forward the findings of the victims’ consultations we are carrying out and want the resulting Birmingham Victims’ Charter to be used by the PCC to inform which projects are to be funded and to look for the new and innovative approaches which are needed to deal with victims and commissioning services.