Office of the Commissioner hosts partners delivering victim care – after dedicated Unit helps a quarter of a million people to cope and recover

DEPUTY Police and Crime Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson welcomed local services to Surrey Police’s headquarters in June, as victim care organisations funded by the Office of the Commissioner united to drive improvements to the care that individuals receive.

During the event, which was hosted by the Office’s commissioning team, representatives from a broad range of charities and services discussed community safety and how to best support victims.

Among the attendees were the team from Surrey Police’s dedicated Victim and Witness Care Unit (VWCU). The Unit, which is jointly funded by the Force and the Office of the Commissioner, marked its fifth anniversary this spring.

The VCWU team were joined by leaders from other services across the county, including: I Choose Freedom;  East Surrey Domestic Abuse Service; North Surrey Domestic Abuse Service; Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum; Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s STARS Service; Innovating Minds, the YMCA’s What is Sexual Exploitation? (WiSE) Service; the county’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC); and Hourglass (safer aging).

Opening the event, Deputy Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson said funding local services that improve community safety and support victims of crime is one of the most crucial elements of the Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend’s role.

In 2023/24, that included approving nearly £2.7m of funding to support victims of crime to help them cope and recover. The funding has helped pay for specially trained advisors for domestic abuse, sexual violence and fraud as well as counselling, helplines and projects that raised the awareness of modern slavery and the exploitation of children and young people.

This funding has also been made available to local services and specialist organisations to ensure that support is available to victims from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, LGBT+ and disabled communities as well as supporting the elderly and children and young people.

Over the course of the day, visitors discussed the opportunities and challenges affecting victim care in the UK, including the pressure on organisations to meet increasing demand with limited resources.

The programme included a specific focus on how the Commissioner’s Office, as a leading funder of victim care in Surrey, can help organisations to provide the best care possible.

Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “Victims and witnesses of crime deserve the best possible support during what will often be one of the most difficult times in their lives.

“I am incredibly proud of the fantastic services we support in Surrey, who provide some of the best victim care in the UK.

“But they are under increasing pressure, and it is vital to me that our Office can continue to support them by helping to make it easier for victims to contact the right service sooner.

“We must also encourage more sustainable funding to protect the people and projects helping victims to cope and recover.”

“I truly don’t know what I would have done without our phone calls, your advice and continued support. This has been such a tough process and you have helped me so much.”

– Victim supported by Surrey Police’s Victim and Witness Care Unit

Both Lisa and Ellie attended the Victim and Witness Care Unit celebrations during the spring.

Since 2019, the Unit has provided advice and support to over a quarter of a million people in Surrey.

It has also helped more than 4,000 individuals with ongoing practical and emotional support needs to navigate the criminal justice system and cope with the impact of their experiences.

Some victims of crime will suffer from a fear of going out, difficulty continuing work or education, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Unit also aims to keep victims engaged with the criminal justice system. One case involved seven victims of childhood sexual violence. When their case was delayed by two years, the Unit provided care and support to help them cope. Staff were also on-hand to help all seven individuals as they took to the witness stand during the two-month trial to see justice done.

Rachel Roberts, Head of the Surrey Police Victim and Witness Care Unit, said: “The Unit is here to help anyone affected by crime, no matter how long ago it happened, or whether you have reported it to the police or not.

“Impartial from any criminal justice process, we aim to support you, and anyone else who may have been directly affected, such as family members, to cope and recover.

“We will explore with you the most suitable ways to do this to meet your individual needs and circumstances, including helping you to understand your rights and entitlements under the Victims’ Code of Practice and ensuring you feel informed about any police processes and the options available to you.

“We can also make onwards referrals to other support agencies who may be able to help.”

list of all support services available to victims in Surrey is available here.

All victims of crime in Surrey are automatically referred to the Victim and Witness Care Unit or a specialist provider of care at the point a crime is reported. Individuals can also self-refer themselves by calling 01483 639949 or visiting

Support and advice are available to every victim of a crime in Surrey regardless of when the offence occurred.

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