Beacon To Provide More Services
Each fortnight, the Police and Crime Commissioner writes a column for the Herts and Essex Observer. ​This article was published on the 2nd of November 2017.

Being a victim of crime is a traumatic and stressful event. The impact is often long lasting, and different people deal with the effects of it in different ways. It shouldn’t happen in the first place, of course, but if it does, you should be confident that the support you’re going to get from the police is going to help you recover.

In 2015, to improve the care provided to victims in Hertfordshire, I set up the Beacon service. This would be a ‘one stop shop’ for victim care. Offering a single point of contact for those people unfortunate enough to have been victims and providing dedicated and enhanced support to those people who were particularly vulnerable or at risk of further harm.

It was a great success, and working with Victim Support and the Constabulary, specialist police officers and care workers have offered assistance to more than 120,000 people since the service started. Of those people, over 35,000 have received so-called ‘enhanced packages’ of care, meaning they have specially designed care depending on their individual needs. Since January, the service has had Vulnerable Victim Case Managers who will work exclusively with individuals who need dedicated care right through their case from beginning to the end – whenever that may be.

Presently, these officers work on burglaries, assisting vulnerable people or people who may have been repeatedly targeted, and the feedback we have had on their work has been overwhelmingly positive. However, from April next year, I want to do even more and roll this service out to cover even more crimes.
This week sees the start of a process to take Beacon to the next level. Earlier this year, Beacon held a public consultation on what the public wanted the service to deliver in the future. There were three key ambitions they agreed would need to be delivered: that every victim would be offered help, regardless of when the crime happened or whether it was reported to the police; that the staff receive the best training to ensure the highest levels of support; and finally, that the service keeps the victim safe and gives them greater control over the process.

The next provider will deliver these principles, and in partnership,  increase the number of areas which Beacon provides care for – including domestic abuse, sexual assault, fraud and cyber-crime, crimes which are currently supported through different organisations.

At the heart of this service is the Victim’s Code of Practice. This is a set of entitlements setting out how victims and witnesses should be supported throughout the Criminal Justice System. This includes commitments to communicating with victims, supporting them and explaining all aspects of the criminal process to them, including a right to review should the victim disagree with a decision not to prosecute.

Essentially it’s about keeping people supported and informed of their case. Beacon does that so well at the moment, and I’m excited about how it will be able to do even more in the future.

If you need to access Beacon, please visit the website.