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Mr Matthew Scott, the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is responsible for the “Safer in Kent” Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan and commissions victim services across Kent. It sets priorities for us and other partners to put victims first. The quality of service to victims is the responsibility of all agencies involved, not just the police. The criminal justice process brings victims and witnesses into contact with other public and support services. The Kent Criminal Justice Board (KCJB) has independent oversight of criminal justice across Kent. Chaired by the PCC, it brings together key leaders from core criminal justice agencies to ensure effective, efficient and fair justice is delivered.
Realising the complexities and number of local and national strategies, we are developing an innovative multi agency victim improvement strategy. Sponsored by the Office of the Police Crime Commissioner, Strategic Victim Justice in conjunction with the KCJB, the aim of the strategy is to implement a programme of continuous improvement in relation to the service we provide our victims and witnesses. The intention is to create a single tool that outlines the actions, activity and best practice needed to successfully implement any of the local and national strategies. The overarching, Multi Agency Victim Improvement Strategy will be a ‘one-stop shop’ for all victim and witness strategies. It will provide a user-friendly source of information and guidance for all within the organisation. Information will be cross-referenced and organised not only from the individual strategy but also by themes and interventions. It will include a performance framework with access for all agencies in order to track their own areas of responsibility.
Maintaining and improving engagement with support services is vital. Our core referral support service “Victim Support” is based in Ashford at Compass House, the co-located Kent hub for victim services. It provides a central point through which victims and witnesses can access collaborated support services. Alongside Victim Support is our Witness Care Unit, “Citizens Advice” court based “Witness Service” Family Matters, Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and Restorative Solutions as the commissioned provider of restorative justice are all co-located within Compass House. Our central referral unit and the Medway multi-agency safeguarding hub provide collaborative safeguarding support for victims of crime.
Kent’s PCC is the National Association of Police Crime Commissioners (APCC) lead for mental health. He commissioned the victim support publication “Doing better for victims and witnesses with mental health problems in Kent,” to better understand the issues faced by victims and witnesses with mental health issues. He continues to champion and highlight the increasing demand on police and the need for better mental health services.
In February 2019, along with the PCC we secured significant funding from the government’s “Early Intervention Youth Fund” to help prevent young people becoming involved in gangs and youth violence. The PCC has awarded funding to the St Giles Trust to tackle these issues in addition to funding drug county lines work in the east of the county. The PCC’s Violence Reduction Fund has also set aside significant funds to invest in schemes, providing for local charities and other organisations to be able to bid annually. The Margate task force and the more recent multi-agency Medway task force have enabled partners to work closer together to address the underlying causes of crime.