County victims of crime need more support, says commissioner

Victims' commissioner Angela Sarkis
Victims' commissioner Angela Sarkis

The Victims’ Commissioner for Northamptonshire will call for more support to be given to victims and witnesses going through the justice system when she presents her report at the end of the month.

Angela Sarkis said she has met more than 50 individuals who have been witnesses or victims of crime since taking up the post.

She has also had more than 1,000 responses to a public consultation and she said the majority of people said more support needs to be given to these individuals.

She said: “There are too many people that I have spoken to that feel let down by the justice system and some have said they would not report a crime again because of the lack of support they felt they had been given.

“These people who run the gauntlet of going through the courts need to be more protected. I have been amazed by some of the people I have met, how brave they have been to let themselves be vulnerable in front of me and tell me what they think needs to be changed.”

Mrs Sarkis described some of the support given to victims and witnesses of crime as “mediocre” and sometimes “very poor”.

However, she added: “We must remember that there is a lot of great work going on at the moment and it isn’t all bad.”

She said that since she began her job she has also spoken to the agencies involved in the justice system in the county, ranging from the police, to victim support, to the probation services.

She added: “When I present the report I think it will be hard-hitting with my recommendations.

“But, I don’t think there will be any shocks as I have been speaking to agencies in between my time meeting with victims and witnesses of crime so I have been relaying the feedback.”

Mrs Sarkis will present her report at the end of the month and will ask Adam Simmonds, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the county, as well as the other agencies involved, to implement changes that will give victims more support and give them faith in the justice system.

However, she admits that it cannot all be changed quickly.

She said: “We do not have a magic wand and cannot fix everything straight away.

“However, I believe there are things that can be implemented quickly, like signposting people in the right direction so they know what agency they need to speak to for support, how to get in touch and when they can.

“Also, there needs to be better inter-agency work to provide a better framework of support.

“Some of things will take time but we can start to work on them and continue to work and try to improve over time.”