Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, Jenny McKibben, met with representatives from the NSPCC to discuss current children’s victim support services in Norfolk and future requirements.
Topics discussed included: improving access to remote sites for child victims and witnesses needing to give evidence in court, increasing the number of specialist Young Witness Services and improving availability of registered intermediaries for child victims and witnesses.
Following a number of successful funding bids, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk has already appointed a child SARC advocate, to support child victims needing to give evidence. Other funds are being used to establish an adolescent advocate, offering support to victims aged between 13 and 17 years old, along with a digital link set up so that victims can give evidence in a safe, comfortable and age-appropriate location away from court.
Jenny McKibben says: “Going to court to give evidence as a victim or witness can be traumatic, especially for a child, and we hope that the new digital links and advocates will ensure that children and young people can give their very best evidence.”
“Supporting child victims is crucial and we can always do more, including increasing the number of specialist support services wherever possible, and also ensuring that registered intermediaries, who can have a critical role to play in supporting children in a court process, are involved at the earliest opportunity.”
Susannah Sconce, Senior Public Affairs Officer at the NSPCC, says: “Children who have experienced abuse require specialist support to give their best evidence and recover from their ordeal. The NSPCC’s Order in Court campaign has revealed a postcode lottery of support for child victims and witnesses across England and Wales. We were delighted to meet Jenny to discuss the needs of children in Norfolk and impressed by the commitments being made to improve support for child witnesses locally.
“It is particularly encouraging that Norfolk will be one of just a handful of areas across the country offering a remote video link that child witnesses can use. This can help children to give their best evidence during a trial, by freeing them from the anxiety of attending an adult court environment. We look forward to working with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk to ensure that specialist support is eventually available to all young victims and witnesses across the county.”