Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner.  
Commissioner's Office: 01707 806100
April message

I was pleased to be able to launch a brand new service for victims of crime in Hertfordshire recently. Beacon – the Hertfordshire Victim Care Centre – went live on 1st April and is an innovative new one-stop-shop for victims who want support or information relating to their crime. The service offers a complete ‘wrap-around’ provision for victims with enhanced services now offered to victims who have suffered more serious crimes or are vulnerable or who have been a victim more than once.

The new arrangements see Victim Support and the Constabulary’s Victim Service Team operating out of a single hub. A range of services are now available under one roof, from simply practical help, such as changing locks following a break in, through to information about their crime investigation or emotional support. Importantly, this service will be available free to all victims, including those who have decided not to report the matter to police or who have changed their mind about needing support and choose to make contact in the weeks or months after the incident.

The change follows responsibility for commissioning victim services in Hertfordshire moving from the government to my office. I took this opportunity to reshape the arrangements based on what victims the county have told me they want and to give those who have been strongly affected by their experiences the best possible chance of coping and recovering from their ordeal.

Victims who report crimes to police will automatically be contacted by the centre however those who have not reported the matter or who would like to access information and support in their own time can access services via the new Beacon website www.hertfordshirebeacon.org or through the hotline 0300 011 55 55 which is open daily from 7am to 10pm. Victims of fraud in the county whose crimes are reported to the national agency Action Fraud will not be contacted automatically however they too can access support services by contacting Beacon direct.

Improving customer care is high on my list of priorities so I was also pleased to see the Constabulary recently roll out an appointment-booking system to more parts of the county. Scheduled appointments enable members of the public to arrange a face-to-face meeting with a police officer to discuss a particular policing or crime issue.

Following a successful trial in Dacorum and Stevenage boroughs, the service is now also available in Hertsmere and Welwyn Hatfield with more districts and boroughs likely to follow throughout 2015. The change means appointments made by prior arrangement are much less likely to be postponed or cancelled because of unforeseen operational commitments or emergencies. This is something I have been pressing for and I look forward to satisfaction levels among members of the public improve.

Recently I also launched a drive to recruit more volunteers for the county’s Independent Custody Visiting Scheme. Supporting and encouraging volunteering opportunities in Hertfordshire has always been a key part of my vision for reducing crime and promoting community safety in the county. With this in mind, Independent Custody Visitors, or ICVs, are volunteers who play a vital role in ensuring that police cells are safe places and that the welfare and rights of those kept in them are maintained.

These people must have good observational and thinking skills, strong ethical principles and be comfortable challenging authority if required. If you would like to give some of your time for the benefit of the community, I would urge you to consider becoming an ICV. For more information please visit my website www.hertscommissioner.org/independent-custody-visiting-hertfordshire, or email commissioner@Herts.pnn.police.uk or telephone the Commissioner’s office on 01707 806100.