Keeping victims of crime informed of progress in their case continues to be a “significant issue” for Northamptonshire Police a new independent study has revealed.
The Victim Experience Annual Report - compiled by the University of Northampton’s Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice (IPSCJ) - has highlighted a number of key areas that the force needs to address in its dealings with people who have reported a crime.
One of the key findings was that only two in three victims of crime (66 per cent) said they were satisfied with how well they were kept informed, a reduction of eight per cent over the last 12 months.
Overall, 77 per cent of victims said they were satisfied with the overall service provided by Northamptonshire Police, a drop off of seven per cent on 2014-15.
Ninety per cent of victims were satisfied with the way they were treated by police officers and staff but victims of anti-social behaviour had the lowest level of satisfaction with the overall police service at 71 per cent, a 15 per cent reduction on 2014-15.
Victims of hate crime have the second-lowest level of overall satisfaction at 72 per cent, a 14 per cent reduction compared to twelve months ago, with treatment and wanting their incident to be taken seriously a particular concern for this group of victims.
The report notes that the Hate Crime Unit was disbanded in May 2014, which saw a move from six dedicated officers and one Sergeant to one officer
remaining as a Hate Crime Co-ordinator working with neighbourhood policing.
A survey carried out by Victim Support which found that, when victims did receive updates, only a third of these were updated ‘at least monthly’ within the standard outlined in the Victims’ Code of Practice.
Victims who were updated less than monthly (or not at all) were less likely than victims who are kept regularly updated to agree that the criminal
justice system treats victims fairly and that criminal justice agencies do as much as they can to treat victims with consideration and respect.
A number of recommendations come out of the report, including the need to develop a long-term strategy to improve communication with victims at all points of the process.
When police do not attend incidents, evidence suggests this is a significant factor in influencing public satisfaction and more needs to be done to explain to victims why such a decision was taken and to reassure them it is being taken seriously.
Det Supt Steve Lingley, head of safeguarding at Northamptonshire Police, said: “While the force has a minimum monitoring requirement placed on it, we are going beyond this by going out to speak to more people than we have ever done before. We do this because we are committed to providing a better service”
“Naturally, these surveys set out areas for improvement, but by speaking to victims and gauging what they want we have an evidence base which allows us to shape better our future services and deliver our core aim, that of protecting people from harm.”
Mr Lingley said the force would be rolling out a second phase of the Protecting Vulnerable People training this autumn.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, Stephen Mold said: “This report was commissioned by my Office to ensure that we are listening to victims of crime and adapting as necessary in order to deliver the help and support that people need from their police and victims support services.
“Supporting victims of crime - who have entered the criminal justice system through no fault of their own - will be at the heart of everything I do as Police and Crime Commissioner, and the Victim Experience Report gives us valuable feedback as to what we need to do to better support people.
“I will be working hard with Chief Constable Simon Edens and his team to make sure we are listening to people’s concerns so that we can make progress in these areas.”