Andrew Smith MP

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Rethink of plans for victims & witnesses

VS1.jpgAndrew Smith MP supports the campaign to ensure victims and witnesses of crime are not made to suffer.

At least £21m of help for victims could be wasted if controversial government plans to hand control of budgets to police and crime commissioners go ahead, according to the charity Victim Support.

Even by the Government's own estimate the costs of this form-filling would mean the loss of:

* intensive support for 25,000 victims of domestic violence

* support for 20,000 victims of antisocial behaviour

* installation of 15,000 home alarm kits for victims of burglary and

* 100,000 personal alarms given to victims of personal or street crime.

Victim Support is therefore calling on the Government to rethink plans which it believes are unworkable, damaging and dangerous and could abandon people when they are at their most vulnerable. 

If implemented, the Government's plans will also:

* Break up the existing network of nearly 7,000 highly trained Victim Support volunteers, which currently saves the taxpayer over £20m a year. Without this network, victims of large scale criminal incidents, the police and local authorities will all be less able to rely on consistent local support. 

* Create patchy services for victims and witnesses. This -- and the Government's desire to focus support on far fewer types of crime -- means that some victims may miss out on any support.

* Reduce the money available to spend on victims and witnesses by £3m per year, by reducing Victim Support's ability to fundraise.

* Divert millions of pounds to private sector firms -- money which would be better spent on helping victims.

* Put the security of victims' personal information at risk -- with significant implications for the police who currently routinely share victims' data with Victim Support.

Andrew said: "Victim Support volunteers do an amazing job in Oxford. We need to ensure that those who are affected by crime get the support they deserve. That's why I'm backing Victim Support's calls on Government to rethink its plans." 

Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Victim Support, said: "It makes no sense to reinvent the wheel by asking police and crime commissioners to purchase services for victims. Victim Support has been successfully giving help to victims and witnesses for nearly 40 years. It is simply unacceptable that they could lose out on support to the value of £21m because of additional red tape and paper pushing. 

"Getting it right for victims and witnesses should be about putting their needs at the heart of changes, not making proposals which have the potential to abandon them when they are at their most vulnerable."

To support its conclusions Victim Support has launched an e-petition on the HM Government website, calling on the Government to reconsider its plans for local commissioning. Members of the public can find out more about this at www.victimsupport.org.uk/dontsuffertwice

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