Beacon care centre supports thousands of victims in Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire’s new victim care centre, Beacon, has offered support to more than 23,000 victims of crime in the county since it was launched in April by Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd.

Beacon provides free and confidential practical and emotional support for victims in Hertfordshire, whether they have reported the matter or not. Between 1st April and 31st August this year, the centre contacted 23,566 people to offer them support.

In addition, 6,064 particularly vulnerable victims were offered a new ‘enhanced’ care package. This enhanced service offers elderly or repeat victims, for example, an extra package of care designed around their own particular needs.

As of the end of August, more than 900 victims were continuing to receive specialised care provided by or organised through Beacon. (Some anonymised real examples are given below).

Commissioner Lloyd said: “For some people being a victim of crime can present practical problems, such as organising lock changes after a break in, while for others the trauma of what has happened to them can cause severe anxiety and stress. Whatever the needs of the victim, Beacon can help them recover and move on from what has happened.

“I am delighted that Beacon has been able to make contact with and support so many victims of crime in Hertfordshire since its launch just five months ago. While crime in the county is low, residents will be comforted to know that Beacon is there should they become a victim of crime. Furthermore, residents don’t have to pay a penny more for this service, as it is paid for out of the victims’ surcharge, which is effectively a fine imposed on offenders in court.”

David Padgett, Contract Manager for Victim Support, added: “We very happy and proud to be part of the integrated team at Beacon and we look forward to developing not just our own service but the wider service to victims of crime in Hertfordshire alongside like-minded colleagues.”

For every crime that is reported in Hertfordshire, the centre – which is run jointly by the charity Victim Support and Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Victim Service Team – makes contact with all identified victims. As well as offering support, the centre also provides updates on their investigations, making it a one-stop-shop for victims wanting information in the county.

Furthermore, Beacon is contactable via a hotline or its website so victims can access services and support, even if they have not reported the matter to police or they had previously declined support and then changed their mind later.

As a result, Beacon has been able to intervene on numerous occasions where people have been suffering as a result of a crime committed against them. Here are some genuine, but anonymised experiences of victims who have contacted the centre direct.

• A victim of stalking contacted Beacon suffering from severe stress relating to what had happened to her. Within 12 hours of making contact with the centre, an initial assessment of her needs was undertaken and specialist support was arranged. In fact, an NHS care team visited her at her home the same day as making contact with Beacon. Her support is continuing.

• A victim of hate crime was contacted within four hours of being referred to Beacon by a third party. Again she was suffering from anxiety. Beacon arranged for a Victim Support volunteer to visit her that day to provide practical support, including a personal attack alarm, and emotional support. Beacon also contacted Hertfordshire Home Safety Service on her behalf, which offers a range of free or low cost security services, paid for by money clawed back from offenders under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

• Finally, a disabled woman who was suffering from domestic abuse contacted the centre to access help. For reasons not known, she does not want to report the matter to police. Many domestic abuse sufferers do not want police involvement because the perpetrator is a loved one or carer and they fear what will happen to them if they report it. In this case, the victim continues to receive a level of support from Beacon that she is happy with and it may be that in time she builds enough confidence to take further action.

Victims of crime can access information and advice to access services via the website or by calling the hotline 03000 11 55 55, which is open daily from 7am to 10pm. Calls are charged at a local rate.

Fraud victims should continue to report their crime to Action Fraud at or on 0300 123 2040 however they too can access support services by contacting Beacon direct.