Halton’s Anti-Social Behaviour Victim and Witness Support Service has reached a milestone of providing support to 1,000 people and their families.
The service from Halton Borough Council gives independent and confidential support to local residents. People are referred to the service by agencies such as the police, registered social landlords, social and health care professionals and following a comprehensive assessment to determine what kind of support plan the person needs.
Since receiving acclaim for best practice in parliament back in 2009 the service has continued to provide the three distinct levels of support to victims and witnesses of nuisance and anti-social behaviour.
Level One: If you have been a victim or a witness of anti-social behaviour the service can help you to feel safer in your home.
Level Two: if you have been affected by crime or anti-social behaviour the service can help you to talk about it and agree how to deal with the particular incident and its consequences. I can also help you to find other support for examples counselling.
Level Three: The service will take care of your case offering advice and information, one to one visits, telephone contact, evidence gathering equipment where needed, attendance at court and other hearings and after court visits.
Feedback received from service users supports this:
“To be listened to then have prompt action taken and knowing someone was looking out for us was heart-warming.”
“Witness support pulled out the stops from the 1st time they met us. Nothing was too much trouble. After being ignored by others was brilliant.”
Other keys to the service’s longevity has been empathy, advocacy, emotional and practical support, arbitration and the understanding of and the ability to refer to specialist support services for a range of health, mental health, housing, welfare and social care deficits.
Building trust is key to building working relationships with victims and witnesses per say. And is part of what is conceptualised as being a key component of the ‘Victim Journey’. The Victim Journey is a daily reminder of the standard of service required as set out in the Victims’ Code of Practice ensuring that victims can expect the same quality of service. As part of the ‘quality assurance pledge’ the service provides victims and witnesses with up to date information, we help victims and witnesses to express the effect of crime on them.
Anti-Social Behaviour covers a very broad range of events, which can be repeated over a period of time and can lead to a sense of fear and vulnerability for victims. These incidents can have a very serious impact on an individual or a local community.
“I am proud we have been able to support so many people to reach closure with them being able to return to the routine they had prior to the incident occurring. It is a double celebration as I mediated on my 100th case recently,” says the Council’s ASB Victim and Witness Support Officer, Andrew Bailey.
“Developmentally we are looking at streamlining the referral process so more time can be spent support victims and witnesses allied to continuing working closely with community based organisations, ward councillors, registered social landlords, local policing teams, faith groups, educational establishments, the youth offending service and minority ethnic communities.”
Cllr David Cargill, Halton Council’s Executive Board member for Community Safety, says: “The residents of Halton continue benefiting from the practical and emotional support being offered by this unique service. Victims and witnesses can speak freely and in confidence about the incident and the impact it is having. The service provides victims with up to date information on the measures being taken to address the behaviour.”