New Safe Space for victims of crime in Sussex

23/11/2015

A new website www.safespacesussex.org.uk has launched improving direct access to help and support for victims and witnesses of crime in Sussex.

The site, developed by the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Sussex, provides an online directory of local specialist support services as well as information about different types of crime and what happens at each stage of the criminal justice system, helping to ‘demystify’ the process for people when they may be at their most vulnerable.

The site has been built in close consultation with local victims’ services and follows extensive user testing with victims to ensure it meets their needs, whatever stage they have reached in their recovery. Some users may not have reported the crime to the police, some may not even identify that they have been a victim of crime. Regardless of the circumstances, Safe:Space Sussex provides a secure environment where, at the click of a button, people who may be feeling unsafe can find out what local help and support is available to them.

Veritas Justice is one of the services listed on Safe:Space Sussex.  Claudia Miles, Director said: “I’m delighted the website is aimed at victims, regardless of whether or not they have reported a crime.

“Our experience tells us that, people will experience around 100 incidents of abuse before reporting to the police and for many reasons they may not want to go straight to the police, but don’t know where else to turn to for help. Safe Space: Sussex provides access to support for those people when they are at their most vulnerable.

“We can offer a confidential service about all the options and help available to them and sometime this may involve supporting them in reporting a crime to the police. It can also mean providing options without having to involve the criminal justice system.

“I hope this site will mean victims know there’s a safe place they can go to and find help.”

Lucy Smith (not her real name) has been a victim of stalking. She hopes that Safe:Space Sussex will encourage more people who may be experiencing stalking to come forward and seek help: “Veritas Justice has helped me to find my voice and a way of dealing with this ongoing nightmare. I hope that my experience of violence and abuse can continue to support initiative like the creation of Safe:Space Sussex to improve help, education and awareness for other people like me.”

In April 2015 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) took on a statutory responsibility for commissioning specialist services for victims of crime in their police force areas.

Commenting on the new website Sussex PCC Katy Bourne said: “Safe:Space Sussex launches at the same time as a new EU directive setting out improved protection for victims and witnesses of crime comes into force. Under the national Victims’ Code, all PCCs have a duty to work in a way which delivers an efficient and effective local criminal justice system that places victims at its heart and I am committed to making this a reality in Sussex.

“A recent poll on my website showed that almost 50% of respondents either didn’t know or weren’t sure where they could find support to help them cope and recover from the impact of a crime. That’s why I want this website to become a trusted, go-to place for anyone who needs advice. I urge any local services that are not already listed on the site to get in touch with my office so we can add your contact information.

“Work to develop the website and its content, in consultation with victims and service providers, will continue so that together we can make Sussex a safer place for everyone who lives and works here.”

About Safe:Space Sussex:

  • Type a postcode into the site’s search facility to find out more about the support available locally.
  • Select a specific crime type – such as hate crime or anti-social behaviour – and visit a page featuring frequently asked questions as well as live links and contact details for support groups.
  • Leave the site at the touch of a button – a tab at the top of every page redirects users to Google in case they need to leave the site quickly.
  • Find help and support regardless of whether or not a crime has been reported to police or if an offence has happened in the past.
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