Sussex’s Young Witness Service has been handed a £45,000 funding boost from the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.
Katy Bourne has provided the grant to the Young Witness Service in Sussex, which is part of Victim Support - Surrey and Sussex Division. The service supports young people – from as young as six up to 17 years old – who are coming to Court either as victims of crime or witnesses to it.
Katy Bourne commented: “I am delighted to support the Young Witness Service in Sussex, which is one of only seven services of its kind in the UK, helping young people on their journey through the criminal justice system. My Police and Crime Plan reflects the priorities that local people have told me matter to them and that includes putting the needs of victims and witnesses first.
“The funding I am providing for the Young Witness Service has been allocated from money released through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
“This sees criminal assets seized and liquidated and the money put back directly into the local community.
“From October 2014, I will start to take on the full range of responsibilities and funding for commissioning victims services across Sussex. I am currently conducting a needs analysis, assisted by partners and those working in victim support services, to ensure that local services are tailored to support the specific needs of victims and witnesses – and this includes young people and their families. I look forward to seeing how this important service continues to develop and improve in Sussex.”
Maralyn Smith, Victim Support divisional manager for Surrey and Sussex, said: “The Young Witness Service in Sussex has supported 364 young people aged six to 17 years so far this year; 145 (40%) of these were victims of serious sexual offences and 109 (30%) victims of serious assault. This funding is fantastic news for young victims and witnesses in Sussex, and for Victim Support itself, and we are grateful to the Commissioner for enabling us to strengthen our specialist support services where it is needed most. Increasing support for this group is vital in order to help them manage what can often be a harrowing and distressing experience as they pass through the criminal justice system.”
Clare Godfrey, manager for the Young Witness Service in Sussex, said: “We supported a young boy who was the victim of sexual abuse by a family member. He was concerned about going to court so we arranged a pre-trial visit and showed him how the video link worked; we introduced him to our volunteer Linda who stayed with him throughout the whole ordeal. He was able to give good evidence and said afterwards: ‘they made me feel safe and kept me calm; really they just got me through’; a real testament to the skills of our volunteers.”