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More people than ever in Kent now get access to help from Victim Support

More people than ever can now get access to support if they have been a victim of crime.

During the last financial year Victim Support in Kent has made contact with more victims of crime than ever with more than 85,000 people being offered support by the charity.

This is an 26,000 people more than last year.

Scroll down to hear from David who works for Victim Support Kent

Victims can get support in a number of ways as well as over the phone
Victims can get support in a number of ways as well as over the phone

In the financial year 2015/16 more than 57,000 victims were offered help but the sharp rise in numbers is because more crimes have been recorded by Kent Police.

As revealed in January, the force was rated 'outstanding' for its crime recording accuracy by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The force’s approach to crime recording had previously been graded as 'inadequate', but inspectors have now judged the force to be 'outstanding' in how it records reports of offences.

The inspectorate found the force had made excellent progress in how it records incidents involving violent crimes and serious sexual offences.

As a result, an extra 25,400 crimes are being recorded a year, which helps improve the force's understanding of local demand.

This the rise in recorded crime has led to the hike in the numbers of victims offered support.

HM Inspector Zoe Billingham said: "We estimate that, in comparison with the findings of our 2017 inspection, this improved recording accuracy meant that the force recorded an additional 25,400 crimes or the year covered by our re-inspection audit period.

"As a result, substantially more victims will have their reported crimes recorded.

"These victims have received an improved service and been offered additional support from Victim Support.”

Police have become better at recording crime
Police have become better at recording crime

Victim Support in Kent is based in Ashford but has volunteers working all over the county.

Its Victim Assessment and Referral Team make the initial contact with victims and provide a range of different services including; immediate emotional support, providing security items, onward referrals to more specialist services, triaging all domestic abuse cases and referring cases to the community team within the organisation for ongoing support with a specialist trained support worker.

The work in the community is provided by a team made up of team leaders, service delivery managers (three of which work in the community), the hate crime advocate a volunteer and community lead and service delivery assistants.

Senior service delivery manager Rebekah Vela-Castro said: "On top of this we have a large number of volunteers which vary frequently as people are only able to commit time to us when they have free time in their lives.

"However, we do have a core set of volunteers and the numbers can vary to above forty after a training course."

The charity has been named KentOnline's Charity of the Year for 2019.

David Naylor, contract account manager at Victim Support
David Naylor, contract account manager at Victim Support

Contract account manager David Naylor welcomed the news he said: "It's a fantastic piece of news for both our staff and our volunteers.

"Hopefully we can make some people that wouldn't otherwise know of our service become aware of us and hopefully get the support they would need as a victim of crime.

"There have been some significant increases in the numbers over the past two or three years.

"It seems to be a lot to do with the changes in the police. There was an inspection of Kent Police in 2017 and they were asked to change their recording accuracy and as a result of that the number of crimes they recorded increased and that meant more people came to us.

"We get all kinds of crimes come though to us the only ones we don't get automatically get are those that relating to blackmail and kidnap, we will nonetheless support those people if they give their consent to contact them. We aim to contact all victims of crime.

"The biggest increase we have seen over the past few years has been around domestic abuse and those numbers have increased significantly.

"I think that is down to, unfortunately, some crimes happening more frequently and people are more aware they can get support as victims of domestic abuse.

"Also, people who may not have wanted to come forward as a victim now feel able to, this could be male victims of domestic abuse or those who don't live within traditionally recognised relationships, so could be LGBTQ partners."

"Hate crime numbers also went up but that's not just in Kent, that's right across the country, pretty much straight after the referendum for Brexit in 2016 and haven't as yet decreased.

"We are really lucky. We have been funded by the police and crime commissioner to operate a hate crime advocate service this year.

"What our hate crime advocate does is support the individual victims of hate crime, but not just as a victim, we will cover them all the way through the justice system.

"So if cases are taken to court, we can support them all the way through the process along with our partners as the witness service and the court service.

"That's a fantastic programme and people are willing to take up that support and we are lucky again to have that in Kent as it is not a national model."

For more details about the charity’s work and if you need support call 0808 168 9276, when the local office is closed call 0808 168 9111 or visit www.victimsupport.org.uk.

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