This paper has been created at the request of the PCC’s Office to highlight the current ‘as is’ status of the Victim and Witness Care Unit (V&WCU), six months post implementation.
Lisa Herrington - Chief Executive (Interim), OPCC
David Munro - Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)
Key points raised in the discussion:
1. The Chief Executive (Interim) stated that the report was commissioned by the OPCC to update the Panel on the progress of the current Unit since its launch in April 2019.
2. She explained that it was beneficial to have the Unit in-house as it allowed a closer relationship between investigative officers and the support service, offering a wraparound service.
3. Furthermore, she noted that the OPCC was also responsible for designing the website which was done in-house by the Head of Policy and Commissioning, Damian Markland - designed in consultation with partners and was essential as it provided a shop window for users.
4. In response to a Member question on the feedback from victims on the support received from the Unit, the Chief Executive (Interim) stated that there were Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to gauge victim satisfaction - certain KPIs had to be reported to the Ministry of Justice. A more comprehensive report on victim satisfaction would go to the Panel at a later date, once the early difficulties in data extraction from NICHE were overcome.
5. The Chief Executive (Interim) responded to a Member query on the results of the performance audit of the Unit conducted in October, by explaining that the audit was based on the processes and establishment of the Unit. There was an early positive verbal indication from the auditors and the results of the audit would be shared with the Panel once received.
6. In response to a Member query over the incorporation of a Fraud ‘caseworker’ into the Unit and if Surrey Police worked with financial institutions to identify fraud victims, the Chief Executive (Interim) explained that Surrey Police were in partnership work with others but not with financial institutions as the fraud ‘caseworker’ provided invaluable specialist advice. Additionally, the PCC agreed with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Rescue Services (HMICFRS) that there must be a radical revision of fraud, which required national coordination and use of the latest technology.
7. In response to a Member question over the number of paid staff compared to volunteers within Unit, the Chief Executive (Interim) responded that there were currently 12 volunteers out of 20 volunteers for full capacity. That the figure of 37 paid staff that the Member identified were not all new posts - such as the team of Witness Care Officers, the Customer Care Improvement Advisor and the Care Co-ordinator - but were combined from Victim Support.
8. The PCC explained that funding for the Unit came centrally from the Government’s Victims Fund.
9. In response to a Member question on the use of volunteers such as how they were recruited and trained,the Chief Executive (Interim) stated that they were integral as they provided face-face contact with victims of crime. Volunteers did not replace paid staff, but did vital additional work and many volunteers from Victim Support now worked for the Unit. A training programme had also been established to attract more volunteers.
That the Panel noted the content of the report.
Actions/Further information to be provided:
1. R57/19: A more comprehensive report on victim satisfaction within the Victim and Witness Care Unit (VWCU) will go to the Panel at a later date.
2. R58/19: The OPCC will report to the Panel at a later date once the results of the audit on the performance of the Victim and Witness Care Unit (VWCU) were received.