Bedfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye, has announced an increase in funding to support victims of domestic abuse, exploitation and sexual assault.
The total funding amount for services to be delivered to support victims in 2022/23 will be more than £1.35 million, up from £1.14 million in 2021/22.
The PCC has a responsibility to fund local services to support victims of crime in Bedfordshire as well as managing the commissioning process for services funded by the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office in the county.
The commissioning process is administered by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner who advertise the services to be provided, receive and review the applications, award commissioning grants to successful organisations and monitor the delivery of the services.
Applications for funding in 2022/23 were assessed by an independent panel following independent oversight of the sifting and marking of applications that were submitted.
More than 100 organisations applied for funding to provide specific services. These services include:
>Rehabilitation services for those who have been cautioned for domestic abuse.
>Support programmes for women who have experienced domestic abuse.
>Specialists to support women and families affected by abuse.
>Practical help for domestic abuse victims with no recourse to public funds.
>Support for children who have experienced or witnessed domestic and/or sexual abuse.
>Support for young people recovering from sexual exploitation.
>Counselling for young people who have experienced or witnessed crime, including domestic abuse.
>Counselling for adults who have been sexually abused.
>Support for young people recovering from sexual exploitation.
>Support for adults experiencing sexual exploitation.
>Support services to victims of sexual violence.
>Support programme for men experiencing domestic abuse.
The PCC said: “As per my Police and Crime Plan, where supporting victims of crime is one of the priorities, I have set out to ensure that local people have a comprehensive set of services that can support them at what could be the most traumatic and devastating time in their lives. I have set out to ensure that local people have a comprehensive set of services that can support them at what could be the most traumatic and devastating time in their lives.
“Domestic abuse wreaks pain and suffering on individuals and families. Sometimes people are abused for years before they come forward to make a report to the police or contact an organisation that can support them.
“Just as I will be unwavering in my support of the Chief Constable and his officers and staff targeting the perpetrators of this disgusting crime, I will provide the most wide reaching and tailored support services for victims and their children to help them rebuild their lives and heal the psychological scars inflicted upon them.”
Michaela Martindale, Operational Lead, Family and Children’s Early-help Services (FACES) said: “FACES is a local organisation, supporting families who are disadvantaged, marginalised and/or vulnerable. We aim to help them to provide a safer, happier and healthier home in which their children can thrive and reach their full potential.
“We are delighted to be included in new PCC funding and see it as an excellent opportunity to bring real value to our new project. The project will benefit families, by working with fathers, who have displayed neglectful fathering behaviours, to increase their awareness of, and responsibility for, the impact of their behaviours on their children”.
Emma Branch, CEO, Counselling Foundation said: “We’re delighted that the counselling service we provide for victims of crime and abuse within the Bedfordshire Community is going to continue to be supported by the OPCC. This service enables people suffering from the aftermath of traumatic events to have a safe and confidential space to work on their recovery.
“Our client feedback speaks volumes, one said ’My world had been shattered by an incident I reported to the police. Working with my counsellor has enabled me to realise I am not a bad person or a failure. I would like to thank you for your brilliant organisation that came to my rescue at a dire moment in my life.’
Justin Sarginson, Area Manager Victim Support said: “The funding has enabled us to recruit additional Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs), that provide specialist support to victims and survivors across the county. The continued funding will allow us to keep up the work that we are doing and to help provide specialist support to even more victims of domestic abuse.”
Gill Arukpe, Group CEO from Social Enterprise Group said: “Penrose is thankful to the PCC for their continued support for Project CATE to assertively work with Bedfordshire women who are living with trauma and due to this, find themselves exposed to dangerous lifestyles and risk of committing crime or having crimes committed against them.
“Our aim is to prevent future crime by reducing recidivism through this work. Project CATE continues to demonstrate some of the best practices in the region, supporting and working with vulnerable and exploited women.
“We are delighted that the PCC is supporting Penrose in another strategic pilot to work with UK Border Force at Luton Airport in our mission to support more vulnerable women, as part of developing sustainable approaches that address current gaps in provision for the most vulnerable women across Bedfordshire”.
The PCC added: "I want to thank all those organisations that applied for funding. It is important that as a custodian of the public purse that the process of considering the applications is robust, transparent and is focussed on outcomes.
“Introducing independent oversight into the initial sift ensures that we are checking our decision making throughout the process. This year it means that I can support victims of domestic abuse, exploitation and sexual violence with the largest amount of funding provided via the OPCC and we can support more women, men and children in the county. Being able to award more funding this year will help more people to receive more support and to navigate to a safer future.
“Of course, I understand the disappointment of organisations who were unsuccessful with their applications for funding and the OPCC is offering feedback to those who were not successful”.