Three Victims Panels meet in Grimsby to support their respective communities. The Victims Panels have been established by the Anti-Social Behavior Victims Champion who is employed by VANEL. The Panels exist to help local communities understand, discuss and deal with problems such as anti-social behavior and hate crime.
Whilst in their early stages, the Panels are already beginning to make an impact with their communities, and the model is capable of being rolled out through the creation of new panels in other areas.
Martin George is the Victims Champion for North East Lincolnshire and is employed by and hosted by VANEL at The Elms in Grimsby.
Contact VANEL for more information or for Martins details.
Read on for…
> The role of the Victims Champion.
> Some recent impact of the Victims Champion.
> Why are Victims Panels needed.
> Introducing the three current Victims Panels.
About the role of the Victims Champion.
Martin George is the anti-social behavior and Victims Champion for North East Lincolnshire. He is employed via VANEL to support victims locally.
Martin’s main role is to support victims of anti-social behaviour and hate crime, to ensure those people who need the most help get it. This work is carried out with a range of partners – most importantly those partners who can intervene directly in these situations.
Martin also tries to ensure that these issues are well publicised and that victims receive emotional as well as practical support.
Some recent impact of the Victims Champion.
History of the Victims Champion Role
In 2009 the Labour government deployed the services of a Victims Champion to assess the services to victims not only of crime but extended to victims of Anti-social behaviour and Hate crimes, following the tragic deaths in Leicestershire of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter. North East Lincolnshire represents a population estimated at 163,900 and is considered to be ranked 49out of 354 Local Authority areas according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation scores. As such it was one of the areas selected and the post of Anti-Social Behaviour Victims Champion hosted by VANEL (Voluntary Action North East Lincolnshire) was commenced on 01 April 2010.
The programmes purpose and key activities were to;
Help more victims of anti-social behaviour
Make sure that those that needed the most help get it.
Promote the service across the area.
Add to what is already in place adding value.
In order to meet these activities processes have been developed to identify those most vulnerable in terms of suffering as a result of anti-social behaviour and the introduction of multi – agency partnership working processes including Multi Agency Service Agreement Conference meetings (MASAC) and Multi Agency Victim Focus Panel meetings (MAVFP) to improve and support victim care in this specific area.
The ASB Victims champion also represents the views of victims on the following steering groups;
Integrated Offender Management Operation Group
Safer and Stronger Communities Working Group.
Successes and achievements
During the period 1st April 2011 – 31st Marsh 2012 169 victims were supported (an increase of 54 on the previous year) through the intervention ASB Victims Champion and the challenge of using the multi-agency approach to address situations, 90% of the victims experienced a positive outcome.
Why are Victims Panels needed.
Over the past couple of years, the Victims Champion project has identified and worked with specific groups within communities who are suffering repeat incidents of anti-social behavior or hate crime. Even though many of the incidents can appear to be low-level – for example annoyance caused by young people, neighbour disputes and litter in the streets – these still have a marked effect on the quality of people’s lives.
Residents complaining individually to agencies quite often felt isolated and powerless to achieve a just result for themselves.
Consequently the Victims Panels were set up to ensure that those voices were heard and that they received support from other members of the community and got help from the most appropriate agency to resolve the issues brought forward by the panel.
The panels have been set up because it is recognised that there are circumstances in many communities which give rise to anti-social behaviour – ranging from lack of facilities for positive activity to social and economic factors that provide a poor environment for people to live and work in. The panels’ function is to focus of those issues, to identify the gaps and also to identify where members of the community can act in partnership with local service provides to increase facilities and improve the living environment. The responsibility for these issues then becomes shared between professionals and community members.
There are currently (March 2013) three local Victims Panels, with an intention to form more should the opportunity present itself.
Introducing the three current Victims Panels.
One group meets in the Scartho ward of Grimsby. It meets every month, usually on the first Tuesday of the month at Scartho Community Centre. The meeting starts at 2pm and lasts for 2 hours. The group was formed from a social housing complex in which a number of ASB issues were being caused by tenants within the complex. by coming together with their concerns, the group enabled more robust action to be taken by the social housing complex provider more quickly and effectively.
The mental health users and carers groups meets every Wednesday at Tukes Cafe in Grimsby. The group has developed better strategies when dealing with anti-social behavior and hate crime, and the wider community has developed a better understanding of the issues they face. Working with this group has helped to provide pathways for providing specific help and support. It has also helped to develop strategies for better community integration.
This group meets in the West Marsh ward of Grimsby, and usually meets on the first Wednesday of each month at the Haycroft Community Centre. The meeting starts at 7pm and lasts for a few hours. This group was first setup because of the frequency of calls to the Police regarding local anti-social behavior. The group was first formed around a year ago and consistently worked together in the community and with agencies and the Police to identify areas and individuals involved in anti-social behavior. This has enabled the partner agencies to effectively deal with these problems, and early signs are that this had led to a reduction in the number of ASB related calls to the Police from this area.
All three of the groups are currently active and Martin George is on the lookout for new opportunities to create additional groups within North East Lincolnshire.
A video outlining the Victims Panels in North East Lincolnshire has been produced. See below (5mins approx)