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Thousands of victims call pioneering centre set up with the help of Glyndŵr University academics

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5 October 2015

A pioneering centre to help victims of crime in North Wales has dealt with 3,500 calls since it opened in July, it's been revealed.

According to North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC, the success of the new Victim Help Centre, established following a needs assessment carried out by Glyndŵr University, has "exceeded all expectations".

The one-stop-shop for victims covers the whole of North Wales and is based at divisional police HQ in St Asaph.

It brings together the support services of North Wales Police, the Witness Care Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the former Victim Support organisation.

Each victim receives a response specifically tailored to their situation.

Of the thousands of people who've called since the centre went operational three months ago, almost 1,200 of them received emotional and practical support from the fully bilingual service.

About 1,500 victims contacting the centre were identified as vulnerable or repeat victims and have gone on to benefit from an enhanced support package.

Mr Roddick said: “The number of victims dealt with by the centre in just a short time has absolutely exceeded our expectations. This just shows the scale of the need for the service.

“We knew there was a need out there but we didn’t know the response would be as rapid as it has been.”

The team of a dozen highly-trained staff and 30 outreach volunteers is managed by Julie Elliott who joined the original Childline team in 1987 as a counsellor soon after it was set up by TV presenter Esther Ranzen  to provide a free confidential phone service on which young people could talk over issues such child abuse and bullying.

At the official opening ceremony, which was attended by 80 representatives of the service’s partner organisations such as local authorities, voluntary groups and Victim Support, Ms Elliott said: “It is so much more than a helpline and we’ve come a long way since July 1.

“It’s been a steep learning curve for us all but it’s been absolutely wonderful to work with other organisations to provide a comprehensive service for victims of crime.

“Becoming a victim can lead to a range of emotions such as shock, disbelief, denial and anger.

“Each victim who contacts the centre receives a full needs assessment after which the service delivery teams make contact with the right organisations to ensure that the wishes and needs of the victim are fulfilled.

“We have 12 staff in the centre who have all been trained to the very highest standard to deal with any situation they might have to deal with from the victims who get in touch with us.       

“Outside the centre, we have a network of about 30 volunteers in communities across North Wales, which works as an outreach team.

“Where a person has been the victim of domestic violence, for instance, they can help with thing such as moving them out of the home where the abuse has taken place.

“They can also give assistance with contacting employers and schools, writing letters, making insurance claims and claims for criminal injuries compensation.

“The six victim care officers based in the centre come from a range of previous jobs such as the education field and other care organisations and a number are criminology graduates.”

She added: “It’s been a very busy few months but very exciting and challenging.

“We now want to continue providing the best possible service to victims and to help them recover and move on.”

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Debicki, who is the force’s lead officer for public confidence and satisfaction, also had warm praise for the new service at the official opening.

He said: “In the centre one sees some real talent and real passion to help people amongst the team members and my congratulations go to everyone involved in providing the service.

“Crime in North Wales is low but regrettably we do still have victims and the impact crime has upon them can be profound. It can stay with them for a long time or even forever.

“That is why it is so important that we provide them with the best possible service we can.

“It’s all about trust and confidence in the police and statistically people are less likely to become victims again is they have the right support.

“We believe that supporting people properly in their hour of need is a central part of what we do and our officers being able to mesh with such a good after-care service as we now have is vital and enables us to better protect people in our community.”

He added: “I am excited about how the new service is developing and in due course I believe we will be the envy of others.”

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Julian Sandham said: “The Victim Help Centre is making a real difference and holds the needs and interests of victims at it very core.

“It was established as the result of a needs assessment which I commissioned from Glyndwr University and identified gaps in our service to victims.

“Our over-riding objective is to keep victims at the heart of everything we do – and this approach is not rhetoric but a commitment.

“Case workers concentrate one to one on the needs of victims and take a holistic approach with them.”

“We have now established a multi-agency governance board which will evaluate the operation of the service and ensure its continuing excellence.”  

The victim help service is available from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm on Saturdays. It can be contacted by Freephone on 0300 3030159, by email at: northwaleshelpcentre@victimsupport.org.uk, or via the websites www.victimhelpcentrenorthwales.org.uk (English) or www.canolfangymorthiddioddefwyrgogleddcymru.org.uk 

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