22. My Commitments as PCC (To commission needs-led victim services part 3)
1.5 MoJ Male Rape Support Fund
In June 2021, the MoJ made funding available to provide specialist support to men and boys who had experienced rape or SA at any point in their lives.
Nationally, £1.4m was made available and I worked collaboratively with EKRCC and Family Matters to develop an evidence-based bid. As a result, Kent was awarded £31,504 with delivery focused on awareness raising, improving confidence to report and increasing capacity.
This funding was extended into 2022/23 and £31,504 was divided equally between EKRCC and Family Matters to continue delivering the service provided during 2021/22. It was estimated that 40 men and 20 boys would be supported because of the additional funding, with the extra capacity also reducing the waiting list which stood at 28 men and 14 boys.
In addition, direct engagement with males was undertaken to understand the barriers to reporting / seeking support. Key findings from this work highlighted the need to make literature and websites accessible for male victims, training for first contact staff in engaging males with support and in the terminology and practices used to ensure the support offer was relevant to their circumstances.
In total the funding enabled 46 males to receive bespoke support, with 100% reporting feeling better able to cope.
1.6 Victim Services Contracts
I have several contracts with providers for essential victims’ services. The contracts were commissioned at different times and are subject to performance and contract management by my team.
Kent Victims’ Engagement and Support Service (£1.1m)
Delivered by Victim Support (commissioned 2015).
Provides the main referral, triage, and support service for all victims of crime regardless of whether they have reported the crime or not.
The service provides emotional and practical support, safety planning, safeguarding, advice and signposting. Referrals are received automatically from the police but can also be made by other professionals or directly from individuals requiring support.
The service also provides a dedicated Stalking Advocacy Service and Hate Crime Advocacy Service for Kent and Medway. Additionally, I have a collaborative commissioning arrangement with Kent County Council (KCC) whereby Victim Support provide the initial triage and referral service for all DA victims as part of KIDAS.
2022/23 was the final extension year for the contract and significant work was undertaken to recommission the service. The new Kent Victim’s Advocacy and Support Service commenced on 1 April 2023.
a) Support provided ranged from practical needs, immediate emotional support, management of safeguarding concerns, referral to specialist support services and advocacy support.
b) A total of 103,650 referrals were received with 80,614 contacted and offered support.
c) 90% of those who received support would recommend the service to someone else impacted by crime.
d) 89% said the service had helped them cope and recover more quickly from the impact of crime.
e) 91% were highly satisfied or satisfied with the service
Restorative Justice (£207,000)
Delivered by Restorative Solutions (commissioned 2017).
Provides victim focused RJ across Kent and Medway and is available to victims of all crime types with specific risk assessments in place for harm related cases such as DA and SA.
The service aims to reduce the harm caused to individuals and communities by preventing further harm being caused, supporting victims long term recovery and supporting offenders to understand the impact of their actions.
The service has been impacted by the challenges in the CJS which has resulted in many victims feeling disillusioned and failing to engage with support services. The service is also holding cases for longer due to the difficulty in progressing to a court outcome.
a) 182 referrals received relating to offences ranging from murder to common assault.
b) Of the 287 victim cases closed, 129 resulted in a restorative conversation, 7 in-direct RJ (either shuttle or letter) and 10 in a direct RJ conference.
It also offers a dedicated APVC Service to address growing demand. This exceeded expectations with 139 referrals, leading to a positive conversion rate of 27% for direct and indirect conferences as well as over 90% engagement by service users.
A blended family were referred to the service with all having suffered past trauma including some historic DA.
A child in the family would become verbally and physically aggressive if challenged or chastised, arguing a lot with a sibling which often escalated resulting in the child lashing out at the parent.
The facilitator held detailed individual discussions with all family members to understand their perspectives and concerns, which then led to a family meeting.
The child explained how they got frustrated and lashed out because they didn’t feel listened to at times, with the parent explaining they could always come and talk to them.
Facilitated discussions continued and they became more confident in stating how they felt and being honest with each other. The family members then agreed actions as individuals and as a family to help them move forward, including spending more time talking so issues could be aired when they were calm.
Independent Sexual Violence Advisor Service (ISVA) and Sexual Violence Support Services (£450,000)
Delivered by Family Matters (commissioned 2018).
Provides support to victims of rape and SA across Kent and Medway regardless of when the crime took place or if reported to the police.
The service supports both adults and C&YP, including their immediate family members if needed. It provides dedicated ISVAs who offer independent support, advocacy and impartial advice and information. This might include information on reporting to the police, accessing Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) services, or other services such as health. The service also provides specialist counselling for those who have experienced rape and SA, which can be accessed with or without ISVA support. Most of the referrals into the service are from Kent Police and the SARC, but individuals can also self-refer for support.
Demand for therapeutic support continued to grow significantly and unfortunately this has led to extended wait times. It is a growing area of risk and one that will continue to be reviewed during 2023/24.
a) 694 ISVA and 497 counselling referrals received.
b) For those engaging with ISVAs, emotional support, communication with the police, legal / court information and keeping safe were the main areas of need.
c) For C&YP, support for families and their wider support network were high areas of need, alongside emotional support.
d) A high number of victims supported reported improved health and wellbeing, being better able to cope with managing aspects of everyday life and better informed and empowered to act.
Family Welfare Service
Delivered by Victim Support (commissioned 2021).
This service was commissioned to provide tailored support and specialist interventions for close relatives impacted by Operation Sandpiper (the investigation into offences committed in hospitals by David Fuller).
It provided a 24/7 support line in the initial stages of notification and support at significant points during the criminal justice process. It continues to provide case worker led support and access to specialist therapeutic services.
The service has and continues to provide much needed and valuable support to the families impacted; it has been extended to 30 April 2024.
Appropriate Adult Service (£222,522)
Delivered by The Appropriate Adult Service (TAAS) (commissioned 2022).
In January 2022, KCC advised it would no longer provide Appropriate Adults (AA) for vulnerable adults in Kent Police Custody Suites as their statutory duty related to juveniles only.
Following discussions, I undertook a commissioning process to provide AAs for vulnerable adults within the KCC area and out of hours support for both vulnerable adults and juveniles when required across the county.
The service commenced in October 2022 and ensures the rights, entitlements and welfare of those detained or attending a voluntary interview in custody or non-custody setting, are effectively safeguarded.
a) October 2022 to March 2023, TAAS provided AAs to 1,237 individuals eligible to receive the service.
b) Vulnerabilities of those supported include mental health, anxiety, learning disabilities, depression, self-harm and unable to read or write.
c) Whilst due to the nature of the service it is not always appropriate to request feedback, it has been overwhelmingly positive with 52% of adults and 44% of juveniles stating the support was excellent.