‘More should be done to take care of the victims of crime’
PUBLISHED: 11:00 15 February 2013
Newham Police Borough Commander Rob Jones
Care for victims is at the top of our list of priorities, and every day police officers put themselves into difficult situations to protect vulnerable people from harm.
Last year in Newham, 88 officers were assaulted in the course of their duty – more than any other borough in London.
Every day, I hear with pride about ways we have helped people in their hour of need but I cannot ignore that something is going wrong – when we recently surveyed our own officers to ask if they felt confident that their friends and family would receive a good service from the police in London if they were a victim of crime, the majority did not. That honesty needs to be turned into action.
When we let down people when they need our help the most, we need to be absolutely determined to learn and put it right.
Like many of you, I read with shock and sadness about Frances Andrade, a mother of four who had been brave enough to give evidence in court about abuse she had suffered in the past at the hands of someone who was supposed to be looking after her.
I understand the principle of the rule of law that a witness should be cross-examined to test their evidence, but what it does make clear is how tortuous and gruelling the legal process can be for victims and witnesses. We need to re-examine, with the CPS and court service, what we can do to fulfill our duty of care for victims in a way that we are confident supports them properly all the way through.
This is, of course, a collective responsibility that involves different agencies working closely together but the police have a leading role to play.
The experience of a victim and witness of giving evidence in court is the end of a criminal justice process that starts with the first report of a crime.
We need to improve our service by putting victims first every step of the way.
This means doing things differently, and we are about to make what I think will be the most significant change in front line policing in London since we put officers back into local neighbourhoods seven years ago.
This change is called the Local Policing Model, and in Newham it will put three times as many police officers into communities.
We need to do this because despite some significant recent successes – especially in the way we tackle the harm caused by gangs – all the evidence shows that we are simply not doing well enough to provide consistent levels of professional and compassionate care and support for victims. It is what we joined the police to do.