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


Summary of findings

Victim Support is the independent national charity for people affected by crime. We provide a free and confidential service, whether or not a crime has been reported and regardless of when it happened. Staff and volunteers in local branches in the community offer emotional support, practical help and information to victims, their families and friends. Victim Support also provides the Witness Service in criminal courts to give information and support to witnesses, victims, their families and friends when they go to court.

The Government's Street Crime Initiative (SCI) began in March 2002 with the aim of cutting street crime in the ten worst affected areas. Improved partnership working between statutory agencies was the main driver of the initiative.

From July 2002 Victim Support was given funding to enhance its service to victims and witnesses of street crime (robbery, theft by snatch and car-jacking) by working more closely with other agencies to promote a joined-up approach between agencies. The funding covered the period up to March 2003.

In order to explore the experiences of victims and witnesses as part of the SCI and to learn lessons to inform effective practice, surveys were undertaken with service users and service providers of Victim Support and the Witness Service. This report presents these findings and makes recommendations for improving services in the future.


Method

Surveys covering funding issues and service provision were sent out to all Victim Support Areas and London boroughs1 covered by the SCI. (A list of these is given in the Appendix.) Postal surveys were sent to users of Victim Support during January and February 2003. The Witness Service distributed surveys to users over a two-week period during July 2003.


Key issues

  1. The majority (81%) of service users had been able to talk to someone in confidence about their experience. Of those who received this service 82% thought it was 'useful'.
  2. Based solely on their experience with the Witness Service, 57% of respondents thought that they would be 'more likely' to attend court again, and 31% as 'likely' to attend court again. Eighty eight per cent of users would therefore be likely to attend court in the future based on their experience with the Witness Service.
  3. Where a witness had become distressed after the trial, the Witness Service referred them to their local Victim Support service in the community or other relevant agency.
  4. The barriers to establishing effective working relationships included: lack of communication between agencies; data protection issues; limited understanding of the role of the Witness Service; and the competing demands of each agency's performance measures.

Main findings

Findings from the Victim Support and Witness Service providers' funding survey

Victim Support service providers

Working with other agencies Services to victims of street crime Barriers to service delivery

Witness Service providers

Working with other criminal justice agencies Witness Service provision

Victim Support services in the community: users

Provision of information and support Satisfaction with Victim Support

The Witness Service: users

Contact with the Witness Service Support and provision for witnesses Satisfaction with the Witness Service

Please also see the conclusions and recommendations in the main part of the report.


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