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Vera Baird welcomes Government Minister to Newcastle

14th March 2017

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird DBE QC, along with Chief Constable Steve Ashman, last week welcomed Dr Phillip Lee MP to Newcastle to hear about the good work taking place to help and support victims of crime across Northumbria.

Dr Phillip Lee MP paid a visit to the region as part of his role as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Victims, Youth and Family Justice. The role  sees him responsible for a range of areas including victims and witnesses policy, chairing the Victims Panel and Restorative Justice (RJ).

He began his visit by attending the Bigg Market in Newcastle  to view the Safe Haven van – a joint venture that helps people who are on a night who become vulnerable – whether they need medical attention, wish to report a crime, or need advice – the team can assist. The van is in place every Friday and Saturday night and is a partnership between the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Northumbria Police, Street Pastors, St Johns Ambulance and North East Ambulance Service.

Dame Vera Baird, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Minister to Northumbria, it is an excellent opportunity for the Ministry of Justice to see how we are putting victims first in our region and the services we provide”

“We have some impressive schemes in place to support victims and keep local residents safe from crime and introducing them to a visitor makes you realise how much great work is being done, and not by Northumbria Police alone, but through some fantastic local partnerships too.”

As part of the visit he also met with a range of representatives from local support services including Wearside Women in Need, West End Women and Girls and  Victims First Northumbria (VFN) –  a service commissioned by Vera Baird  to provide a wraparound service offering practical and emotional support for all victims of crime.

Other initiatives he was introduced to included:

– Domestic Violence Champions Network – which now consists of more than 650 workplace champions who provide support to colleagues suffering domestic abuse.

– Domestic Violence Support Advisors (DVSA) scheme – where advisors accompany police officers on patrol to ensure that appropriate support is given to domestic abuse victims at the earliest opportunity.

– Peer educators – an initiative which involves young people aged around 20 working with 16 – 18 year olds in schools to educate them on safeguarding and ensuring healthy relationships.

Northumbria Police Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: “Dame Vera has taken a fantastic lead in strengthening and enhancing victim services across Northumbria, helping support the work of our police officers. We’re one of the top forces in the country for victim satisfaction so I’m proud to have been a part of showcasing some of our innovative schemes to Dr Phillip Lee today.”

Dr Phillip Lee MP, said: “We are committed to making sure victims get the support they need to cope with and, where possible, recover from crime.

“Outside the courtroom, we must improve victim support services so they are more targeted to the individual needs of victims in their communities.

“So I was delighted to learn more about the innovative work taking place in Newcastle such as Safe haven and Victims First Northumbria, and would like to thank Dame Vera for her kind welcome.”