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Evaluation of the Street Crime Initiative: supporting victims and witnesses of street crime: a joined-up approach

4. Victim Support community-based services: users' experience

The experience of users is of utmost importance, in order to measure the success of the project and learn lessons for the future direction and development of the service. Postal surveys were sent out to users of Victim Support community-based services during January and February 2003 across all Victim Support Areas and boroughs that received funding through the SCI. Thirty nine completed surveys were returned and missing data has not been included in the base analysis.

Thirty six surveys were completed by the victim, one by the legal guardian or parent, and two by relatives.

4.1 Contact with Victim Support

One of the main aims of the 'premium service' is early engagement with victims. Unless a victim refers himself or herself, Victim Support depends on receiving referrals from the police with the correct contact details. In 72% of cases victims were contacted within a week of the crime, 13% between one and two weeks and 15% more than two weeks.

In 55% of cases Victim Support made the first contact by letter with a leaflet explaining the service. Twenty eight per cent received a 'phone call from Victim Support and 8% a personal visit. 5%(two) victims contacted Victim Support themselves.

'I was impressed by the prompt contact.'
Victim Support service user

4.2 Provision of information and support

The practical advice, information and emotional support given to victims varies from crime prevention advice, and information about police procedures, to providing someone to talk to in confidence about their feelings.

The majority of respondents (87%) were given information about the services supplied by Victim Support. A small proportion (10%, four people) reported not receiving any details, and of these, two felt it would have helped. Of those who received information about services 91% found it 'useful' (71% 'very useful', 20 'fairly useful'). None of the respondents said that the information they were given was 'not useful'.

Information about police procedures was received by 41% of respondents. Twenty seven per cent did not receive any information and 24% felt it was not relevant. Seventy four per cent found the information 'useful' (48% 'very useful', 26% 'fairly useful'). None of the respondents said that the information they were given was 'not useful'.

Of the victims of street crime who did not receive any information about police procedures, 33% thought it would have helped, 16% did not think it would have helped and 44% thought it was not relevant to them.

Crime prevention advice was received by 50% of those who responded. Twenty nine per cent did not receive any advice and 24% felt that it was not relevant to them. Of those who received advice, 64% felt that it was 'useful' (36% 'very useful', 28% 'fairly useful') and 28% felt that it was 'neither useful nor not useful'. One respondent felt that the advice provided was 'not useful'. Of those who did not receive any crime prevention advice, only 18% (three people) thought it would have helped them.

Where relevant, Victim Support will provide information about the Witness Service. Of those who responded, 38% had received information, 25% had not and 34% stated that it was not relevant to their case. Information about the Witness Service was thought to be 'useful' by 63% (42% 'very useful', 21% 'fairly useful') of users, 26% thought it 'neither useful nor not useful'. No service users felt the information provided about the Witness Service was 'not useful' to them. One person who did not receive information about the service available to them thought it would have helped.

The majority of service users (81%) were provided with someone to talk to in confidence about their experience. The large majority of users (82%) thought it was 'useful' (66% 'very useful', 16% 'fairly useful'). One respondent did not find the experience 'useful' to them. A small number of respondents (13%, five people) did not speak to a volunteer in confidence about their experience. Of these, three felt doing so would have helped.

Other forms of support provided were:
'Victim Support wrote a letter detailing the effects of the crime for my child to take to school to help with a transfer.'

'Victim Support helped by putting me in contact with a counselling service which helped me get the further support that I know I needed.'
Victim Support service users

4.3 Satisfaction with Victim Support

Asked about the overall service received from Victim Support, the majority of service users (90%) were 'satisfied' (62% 'very satisfied', 28% 'fairly satisfied'). No respondents were 'dissatisfied' with the service they had received. Excluding 'don't know' responses the level of satisfaction was 97% with only one user being 'neither satisfied nor dissatisfied'.

97% of people were satisfied with the service they received from Victim Support

The large majority of service users found the relationship they had with the volunteer very positive, with 92% stating that they were 'supportive' of their needs (61% 'very supportive', 32% 'fairly supportive'). This is 100% when 'don't knows' are excluded. Nobody felt the volunteer was 'unsupportive'.

It is important that the experience victims have with Victim Support is positive so that if they need further support in future they use the services again. The majority of users (85%) said they would use the service again. Only one respondent thought that they would not use the service again. The other respondents answered 'don't know' as it would depend upon circumstance and the crime.

The experience victims have with the service will influence whether or not they recommend Victim Support to others. This is key to increasing the support given to those who have not reported the crime to the police and therefore will not be referred or may not be aware of the service available to them. The majority (87%) said they would recommend the service to someone else. Only one respondent said they would not.

'It was brilliant to know that Victim Support was there. They contacted me initially, not vice versa, which is ideal given the situation. I was delighted with the enthusiasm and continued contact. I would [use it again] and strongly recommend and highlight your service.'
Victim Support service user

What else could Victim Support have done?

A small proportion of victims (14%, five people) felt that more could have been done for them. This included:

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