To mark World Mental Health Day, Matthew Scott, Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent and APCC Lead for Mental Health, has published details of an independent report he commissioned.
The report, produced by the charity Victim Support, aims to shine a light on the barriers to support affecting victims of crime with mental health problems in the Kent area; it also provides learning for other PCCs.
Whilst recognising the positive steps already taken in Kent to address challenges facing vulnerable victims of crime, the report makes a number of recommendations, including: the introduction of joined-up support between agencies; earlier identification of victims with mental health problems; and improving waiting times and access to mental health services for both victims and witnesses.
PCCs have responsibility to engage with victims of crime and to ensure they have access to vital support services to help them cope and recover. Work in Kent by Matthew Scott demonstrates how PCCs are effectively fulfilling their duties and ensuring vulnerable people receive the help and care they need.
Mr Scott said: “I commissioned Victim Support to undertake research locally to understand how people with mental health problems were being supported through the Criminal Justice system. I am pleased that the report found a wealth of good practice going on in our county, but there is evidently room for improvement. For example, Victim Support found the availability of video links at courts for vulnerable witnesses to be patchy. The Criminal Justice system needs to identify and accommodate every individual’s needs.”
Martyn Underhill, APCC Custody Lead and PCC for Dorset, said: “This report sets out once again the importance of supporting vulnerable victims of crime and witnesses with mental health problems, and provides some excellent examples of best practice that can be used across the country.”
The report will be launched at a special event in Kent with stakeholders and victim support services in attendance. Find out more by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org