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9 December, 2021

Ensuring victims of crime in North Yorkshire and York have dignity and respect

Zoë Metcalfe – Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and the City of York
• Plans unveiled for over £1 million to be invested in Victims’ Centre
• Commissioner supports government proposals for a new Victims’ Law.

North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner is underlining her commitment to supporting victims of crime and is welcoming a new national consultation on ensuring their views are considered at every point in the criminal justice system.

In North Yorkshire and York, more than £1 million is to be invested to create a modern, fit-for-purpose Victims’ Centre in York to support those who have suffered some of the worst crimes imaginable to recover and rebuild their lives.

Zoë Metcalfe has decided to adapt the plan put forward by the previous Commissioner and will now create the facility by buying one, accessible, building close to York city centre.

It will house the existing services provided by North Yorkshire’s sexual assault referral centre for adults, North Yorkshire’s child sexual assault assessment services and video-recorded interview facilities for vulnerable victims and witnesses of any offence.

The centre will provide crisis support and forensic medical examinations to any victims of rape or sexual abuse, of any age, as well as onward referrals to healthcare, social care and support through the criminal justice process in an attempt to support them through the trauma they have suffered and heal for the future.

North Yorkshire Police will use the state-of-the-art video interview suite to provide a safe and secure space where victims can feel as at ease as possible, reducing the amount of time they need to repeat the account of what happened to them with the stress and pain that can cause.

Currently, services are delivered at a building which is no longer fit for purpose due to the demand for more support for victims at a location that is accessible to all. Once the new centre is ready, this existing site will be sold with the money being used to support the improved facility.

Zoë Metcalfe, North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said:

“For those victims who suffer the worst offences, that have the biggest impact on them and their families, we must do everything we can to give them the support they need to rebuild their lives.

“This new Victims’ Centre will do that by bringing together services that can make a real difference in one accessible location. Whether it is crisis support and forensic medical examinations, or reducing the trauma of reliving the crimes by having modern video interview facilities, our aim is to reduce trauma and do all we can to help people recover.”

The announcement comes as plans are set out by the government to ensure victims are heard, served and protected at ever part of the justice system, something supported by Commissioner Metcalfe.

A consultation published today (Thursday 9 December) asks for views on what should be included in a new Victims’ Law. They could include an explicit requirement for prosecutors to meet the victims of certain crimes before making a charging decision in order to understand the impact on them and their families.

Zoë Metcalfe said:

“Too often victims of crime are treated as an afterthought in the criminal justice system so I am pleased the government are recognising this by launching this new consultation.

“Victims deserve dignity and respect. I hope my plans for a Victims’ Centre for North Yorkshire and York coupled with plans for a new Victims’ Law bring us one step closer to their views no longer being ignored or neglected.”

Commercial discussions are currently ongoing about the purchase of the building to house the new centre but it is hoped it will be in use from October 2022.