In October 2014, the Ministry of Justice transferred responsibility for commissioning local victim services in Avon and Somerset to the local Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). This led to the complete review of the way that victim and witness services were provided. To prepare for change this the Office of the PCC’s Commissioning Team worked with Avon and Somerset Constabulary to establish an Integrated Victim Board.
The aim of the Board was to expand on the finding of existing research, regarding the ‘victims’ journey’ through the criminal justice system. The Board began consulting with partners and service providers to explore what services people wanted and identify gaps in current provision. Local victims were also surveyed to establish their needs, experiences of victim contact and suggestions for how the service should be shaped.
After 18 months of research and planning, in October 2014, Lighthouse Integrated Victim and Witness Care went live, as a brand new department within Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Lighthouse offers an enhanced service to vulnerable, intimated or persistently targeted victims of crime and anti-social behaviour, and victims of serious crime. To find out more about that this means and who is classed as an enhanced victim take a look at: Victim Code of Practice
Our Lighthouse teams are based at three hubs in Keynsham, Bristol and Bridgwater to ensure that each victim receives the tailored support and service they need local to them.
All teams have:
On average Lighthouse deal with 200 referrals a day across our 3 hubs, which accounts for about 52% of all crime and incidents recorded.
We have a number of multi-agency partners co-located with us to help us to provide quick access to specialist support for our most vulnerable victims. This includes:
Lighthouse work with victims of crime who are entitled to an enhanced service in accordance with the Victims Code of Practice guidelines. This includes:
Domestic Abuse, Hate Crime, Sexual Assault, Wounding with intent, Trafficking, Attempted Murder, Arson with intent and Kidnap
They are under 18, suffer from a mental health condition, have a physical disability, a learning difficulty or social impairment
All cases are referred into our service through the police and allocated to our Victim and Witness Care Officers (VWCO). We do not accept external or self referrals.
A large percentage of the people we work with are repeat victims and as such we try to ensure where possible that they are allocated to the same officer each time in order to build a positive relationship and ensure consistency of support.
What is the role of a VWCO
If the victim’s case proceeds into the court process the VWCO will remain with them throughout the Criminal Justice Process.
In addition, Lighthouse provides on-going support, updates and information to all victims and witnesses going through the court system. We are currently managing around 4,000 live criminal prosecutions at any one time across all 3 hubs.
If you would to find out more about the role of a VWCO why not look at our Day in the Life Blog.
Did you know that you can follow the Lighthouse Team through our Twitter account just search for @LighthouseVWC
If you are currently receiving support from Lighthouse and have misplaced the contact details of your allocated Victim and Witness Care Officer you can contact us via 101.
Please note we cannot accept external or self referrals.