High Sheriff of West Sussex looks at the impact of violent crime and learns how Victim Support helps
High Sheriff of West Sussex Dr Tim Fooks, in his weekly briefing, visits the charity Victim Support and discovers more about the impact of crime and traumatic incidents on victims and what can be done to help them.
Based on the available data, approximately 200 criminal acts are reported every day in West Sussex. Of these, about a quarter will be linked to antisocial behaviour, one in five relate to all types of theft, and one in 25 are drug related.
But among all the statistics, the stand out figure for me is the data for violent crime which, tragically, accounts for 30 per cent of all recorded cases – and this is thought to be an underestimate, with much more going on unseen behind the closed doors of lockdown.
Crime has been described as a disease of society and, as with coronavirus, the after-effects can result in physical and mental distress that extends far beyond the initial event itself. Victims of any crime but particularly that which is physically violent or is linked to hate, are more likely to experience these long-term effects. Indeed, many suffer from some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder, where the brain becomes unable to process the memory of the trauma so that it is left in the forefront of the conscious mind playing over and over again like a scratched record.
As one West Sussex victim of a particularly devious romance scam said: “As well as money, I lost self-confidence, I struggle to hold myself together day by day, I am forgetful, and I can no longer trust my gut instincts.”
The aftermath of crime is always negative.
Our Chief Constable, Jo Shiner, has recently reported that Sussex Police is now busier than at any other time of this year. But, while the police are becoming increasingly effective in catching criminals and preventing crime, they do not have the resources to provide long-term support to victims.
Thankfully, there is an organisation which does exactly this and I was delighted to visit Victim Support recently to present a Special Recognition Volunteer Award to Frank Gray, one of their most experienced volunteers.
Victim Support is the leading independent victims charity in England and Wales, dedicated to supporting victims of crime and traumatic incidents.
It provides free, confidential support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for people affected by crime and traumatic events – regardless of whether they have reported to the police – and last year, nationally, it offered support to nearly a million victims of crime.
Every week across West Sussex, 350 people are being referred to Victim Support for help, more than half because of domestic abuse.
Communities manager Lisa Domican and her team of carefully-trained volunteers contact more than 100 people a day in the county, providing the practical guidance and information, emotional support and the reassurance they need to cope and recover from the impact of crime to the point where they feel their lives are back on track.
The impact of their support is captured in these words of thanks, ‘I would have been broken without your support’, ‘“you always believed me even when no one else did’, ‘your words gave me the strength to accomplish something I never thought I could’.
Victim Support not only listens to victims, it also gives them a voice, championing their rights and issues locally and nationally with government, agencies in the criminal justice system, and others.
Therefore, if you have been impacted by crime, Victim Support can help.
To arrange support please contact their local office on 08 08 16 89 274 or you can call the Support Line 24/7 free on 08 08 16 89 111
For more information, visit www.victimsupport.org.uk
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