Victim Support is a charity that is uniquely placed to provide support for victims of anti-social behaviour. It has offices all over the country and is contracted by the government to provide support for victims of homicide and other crime.
Anti-social behaviour is not a core service for Victim Support and as such they can only help victims of anti-social behaviour where they receive local funding to do so (with the exception of self-referrals or anti-social behaviour that is a crime so is referred on by the Police if this is an area where Victim Support is funded to provide this service). We did some work to map this in 2014 – see here for our report.
A good example of the support a Victim Support ASB team can provide was found in Newcastle, in 2014 (sadly this service is no longer running in this way due to funding cuts).
Support for victims and witnesses of anti-social behaviour in Newcastle
Victim Support’s dedicated ASB support service gives support and reassurance to victims and helps them deal with the problems they are facing. As an independent charity, victims can talk to them even if they don’t want to speak to the police. The ASB Support workers can:
• Help victims to deal with other agencies such as the police or their housing department
• Help victims cope with the emotional effects of experiencing ASB
• Support victims and other members of their families if necessary
• Help victims get in touch with other organisations that can assist them if there are problems they can’t deal with.
They can do home visits (if safe), invite the victim to the Victim Support office or meet them in a mutual location. When the workers take the initial call, they put an Action Plan in place. ASB cases can be very complex and Victim Support can’t solve the problem but they can try and mitigate it, give victims coping strategies, refer them on to other organisations where appropriate, help them understand the ins and outs of the procedures and support them through the process. They seek to give them information and confidence to help them deal effectively with ASB and know the next steps to take.
The ASB team was funded jointly by Newcastle City Council and a Housing Association and the city has a well-established ASBRAC (Anti-Social Behaviour Risk Assessment Conference) which is a multi-agency response to identify vulnerable victims and work together to help them.
The ASBRAC in Newcastle is called AVATAH and Victim Support is a key part of that group. There is good attendance from all the core agencies which helps make it effective.
Victim Support Newcastle believes the greatest achievement of its ASB team is the reputation it has built up with the agencies in the city as a trusted charity that is there for the victims.
What We Think
We think that victims in Newcastle were lucky to have a well-coordinated agency response to ASB and tailored support from Victim Support. The ASB team was well publicised and victims had this great opportunity to feel heard and supported. We are sure they had an altogether more positive experience of the whole drawn-out process of reporting ASB with help understanding each part of the process and emotional support throughout. It is a great shame that the funding was stopped.