A CAMPAIGN against Government proposals to reform services for crime victims and witnesses has been backed by a North East MP who says they are unnecessary and potentially damaging.
National charity Victim Support (VS) has launched an e-petition calling on ministers to rethink moves to devolve the commissioning of services to 42 elected police and crime commissioners.
VS – which gets 80% of its funding from the Ministry of Justice – says the plan will result in patchy and inconsistent services across the country, and cost £21m to set up.
The charity provides a national helpline and community-based service for crime victims, and support for victims and witnesses in criminal courts.
Now its campaign against the proposed reforms, set out in a Government consultation document, has been backed by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery. VS, which supports a million people a year, claims the changes will mean at least £21m of help for victims of crime being put in potential jeopardy.
It says that, even on the Government’s own estimates, it could mean the loss of intensive support for 25,000 victims of domestic violence, and another 20,000 people affected by anti-social behaviour.
Yesterday Mr Lavery said: “Victim Support volunteers do an invaluable job in areas like Wansbeck, and we need to do everything we can to ensure that anyone affected by crime gets the vital support they need and deserve.
“It makes no sense to reinvent the wheel by asking police and crime commissioners to purchase services for victims, a job that Victim Support has being doing very successfully for 40 years.”
VS says the reforms would break up a network of almost 7,000 trained volunteers, which currently saves the taxpayer more than £20m a year.
The e-petition can be accessed at www.victimsupport.org.uk/dontsuffertwice
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke says the overall effect of the proposals will be a more flexible and tailored system of support for victims of crime, with the vast majority of decisions about what services are needed made at a local level by democratically-accountable police and crime commissioners.