Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, launched a new, free support service for young people in the county at the inaugural Voice Conference today (Wednesday, 2nd March 2016), which celebrated 18-months since the creation of Voice, the PCC’s pioneering victim and witness support service.
Voice was created following the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s industry-leading Victims’ Voice consultation, published in September 2013, which spoke to over 1,000 victims and witnesses of crime in the county and contained 79 recommendations of improvements that should be made to support services in order to enable people to better recover and thrive following crime.
This was followed by the devolvement of funding for victim of witness support from the Ministry of Justice to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, which enabled the creation of Voice in October 2014.
Voice: Children and Young People has been created following consultations with youngsters in Northamptonshire about the challenges they face, and has been designed to deliver specialist age-related support to people in the county. Young people have higher rates of victimisation than society as a whole across a number of types of crime, however they are also less likely to report these crimes to the police or anyone else deemed to be in a position of authority, including parents and teachers.
The new, enhanced, free support service will be delivered by Assist Trauma Care and is available to children and young people with or without referral, operating on a confidential basis, where information is only passed on to the police if consent is given. Voice: Children and Young People will also provide access to specialist therapeutic services, such as play therapy and psychotherapy.
The Voice Conference featured a key note address from Dr Rick Muir, of the Police Foundation and a moving speech by Sue Donnelly – who tragically lost her son and his girlfriend in a road traffic incident – on the role of victim support in society. Since the death of her son, Ms Donnelly has taken part in a restorative justice meeting with the offender via Police and Crime Commissioner-enabled victim support services.
Those wishing to access Voice services can visit www.voicenorthants.org or call 0300 303 1965.
Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
“Throughout my term in Office we have focussed on ensuring we are able to adequately protect and support the most vulnerable people in our communities and Voice: Children and Young People is the latest step in ensuring we continue to do this.
“We have consulted with children and young people to truly understand what issues they face and what support they need and as a result we now have a service fit to support young victims and witnesses of crime in every way.”
Linda Lee, Chair of Voice, added:
“As a society we would like to think that parents will protect their children from all harm but sadly we know that isn’t always the case. Sometimes children don’t want to tell their parents everything and sometimes children need protecting from their parents. It is important that we empower children and young people to seek help for themselves and to feel comfortable and supported when they do so.
“I am delighted that this new addition to the Voice family will offer that much needed help and support to children and young people in the county. This is a free service designed by young people for young people.”