Help for crime victims in Norfolk could be cut

Help given to victims of crime in Norfolk could be cut or disappear altogether if the government goes ahead with its planned changes to the criminal justice system, the charity Victim Support has said.

The charity helped 1,608 victims of crime in Norfolk, including 804 victims of assault and wounding, to deal with the trauma caused by those crimes last year. But these numbers could drop significantly if government reforms go ahead, leading to patchy services with the possibility of victims in parts of Norfolk getting no help at all, the charity said.

Under radical new plans, controversial police and crime commissioners (PCCS) – who are to replace police authorities in England and Wales in November – will be responsible for victims' and witnesses' services, instead of them being managed and overseen nationally as they are now.

Kate Biles, head of Victim Support in Norfolk, who wants to see services to continue to be commissioned nationally, said: 'The government wants PCCs to be responsible for victims' services, and we're worried this will lead to patchy or non-existent services in the area. We believe this new approach to services will increase costs without guaranteeing that every victim of crime will get the same level of help. This isn't in the best interests of victims and witnesses, it's change for the sake of change and it's wasteful. Services will become more expensive and of lower quality.'

Speaking to the EDP earlier this month, policing minister Nick Herbert said PCCs would put people in the 'driving seat', help drive better performance in crime, keep people safe and ensure the concerns of crime victims are listened to.

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