New hope and support for victims of abuse

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner
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Victims of domestic abuse may be able to give evidence away from the pressures of the courtroom.

Thanks to winning a share of a £800,000 grant funding pot from Ministry of Justice Preparatory Victim Support Services, Halifax Womens Centre is looking at how to support abuse victims through a live video link to courtrooms.

The overall funding, which is being distributed by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, consists of £671,408 for preparatory work and £152,502 for restorative justice. It will be used for development work looking at forming new victims services in addition to the existing services in place across West Yorkshire.

If the scheme at the womens centre proves successful it could be rolled out across the region.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “This grant is to enable partners and me to build the capability and capacity of potential providers of services for victims from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to ensure that victims and witnesses get the high quality help and support they need, when they need it.

“As I prepare to commission local support services for victims I have set local criteria which includes ensuring that victims are not disadvantaged by where they live, and if someone feels they have been a victim they should be able to self refer and be entitled to access the appropriate support services.

“I am constantly working with partners to develop new ways of delivering justice and support for victims and this is a key part of that and I look forward to seeing how the services are developed.

“I need to know we have the best services on offer for those needing them when we commission at a local level in October and this work will form part of that to ensure our communities are safer and feel safer.”

Other schemes which proved successful included: Bradford Community Safety’s partnership for a pilot restorative justice service unit; Kirklees Community Safety Partnership’s bid for a neighbourhood resolution panel scheme; Leeds Community Safety Partnership’s pilot initiative for restorative justice for adults and a victim hub; Victim Support looking at restorative justice approaches; West Yorkshire Probation Trust’s request for a victim engagement panel; Yorkshire Mediation Services’ plan to look at restorative justice; while Young Lives Bradford Consortium are looking at how to support young victims.

The groups will now work together on the services they are developing which have to meet the criteria set out in the Police and Crime Plan by the Police and Crime Commissioner.