Victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Surrey are to benefit from £450,000 of additional funding for support services in the county. The announcement last week followed a number of successful applications from Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kevin Hurley to the Ministry of Justice.
The Ministry had been running a competitive process for PCCs around the country to bid for additional funding for victims' services in their areas.
In Surrey, the funding will enable a number of new projects and enhance existing support services for victims. The projects are all aimed at providing support for victims to cope with the effects of crime and, as far as possible, to recover from harm. For domestic abuse victims, they will include increased support during interactions with the police and the court process, enhanced services in the county’s refuges and support programmes for children and young people. For survivors of rape and sexual abuse, the funding will be used to reduce waiting times for counselling, and to provide opportunities designed to help victims reconnect with other people and support before, during and after the court process. Mr Hurley said: “Putting victims at the centre of the criminal justice system is a priority for the public and we are working hard to achieve that.”
He said: “ We have conducted extensive research into the victim’s experience of the criminal justice system in Surrey. “We know that outreach and support services are truly a lifeline for vulnerable victims of devastating crimes from the minute they report the offence, through the criminal justice system and on to the process of rebuilding their lives in the aftermath. “We bid for £469,000 of additional funding to support and enhance these services, and secured more than £450,000.”
He continued: “That we have secured almost all of the funding we hoped for from a highly competitive national process is a testament to the hard work put in by our Assistant Commissioner for Victims, Jane Anderson, and the dedicated staff in my office, to build and put forward authoritative cases for the additional funding. “This money will allow for more investment in these essential resources for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Surrey, along with their families. “I am grateful to them, and to everyone involved, in supporting vulnerable victims of crime in our county at their time of need.” Jane Anderson, Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner for Victims, added: “We fully recognise the value of the services currently being provided in Surrey and were keen to build on what has already been achieved. “We would not have got this money without a very solid partnership between the Commissioner’s Office and the Surrey organisations that support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“The extra money will support a wide range of activities, from providing boxes of essentials like toiletries, bedding and towels to families arriving in refuge centres for the first time, through to building the specialist skills and capacity of the people working in victim support roles around the county. “I am particularly pleased to be able to increase support for children and young people.
“This investment will help provide a more positive future for those who have had their early lives devastated by appalling abuse and violence.”
Charlotte Kneer, refuge manager for Reigate and Banstead’s Women’s Aid, who provide access to temporary accommodation for women and children who have experienced domestic violence, said: “We are very grateful to the PCC for the funding that we are to receive from this successful bid. “This will allow us to do more to support the victims in our care, and will transform the lives of women and children living in refuges who are affected by severe domestic abuse.”
Michelle Blunsom, services manager for East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services (ESDAS), said: “This additional funding will allow us to provide more services for survivors of domestic abuse in Surrey and their children, including increasing the capacity of outreach services, support through the domestic violence disclosure scheme - Claire’s Law - and also allow us to support victims following the launch of Domestic Violence Detection Orders / Notices, as we can now provide immediate support to the victim. “We are very grateful to the PCC for this funding, but also for the way in which he and his Assistant PCC, Jane Anderson, have listened to the voices of domestic violence survivors.”
Sonja Freebody, head of fundraising and communications for the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC), said: “We are absolutely delighted that the PCC has supported us with this funding. “We’ve been working alongside his office for a while and are pleased to report that it is a very successful working relationship.
“This extra funding will allow us to provide more support for an increasing number of survivors of rape and sexual abuse who are seeking help.”
The funding opportunity is part of wider changes to how services for victims of crime are commissioned. This October, the responsibility for many practical and emotional services will move from the Ministry of Justice to PCCs.
Surrey is playing a leading role nationally, working with counterparts in Sussex and the Thames Valley to develop a pioneering consortium arrangement which could see one provider offering victim support services for up to 18 police force areas.