Each year thousands of New Zealanders are affected by crime, involved in accidents or affected by sudden and traumatic events. Victim Support are there 24/7 to help and guide people through their darkest hours. This week, we speak to people who were helped back from the brink by dedicated Victim Support staff after their lives were turned upside down by crime. The Other Side of Crime is a campaign to help raise awareness and funds for this crucial victim service.
Victim Support is "fundamental" to police and provides a crucial "next level" tier of help for people affected by crime or personal trauma.
And the service helps police to better recognise their responsibilities to victims.
Police national prevention manager Superintendent Eric Tibbott said the agency had statutory functions to provide community support, reassurance and obligations to victims of crime.
"A fundamental aspect to police calls for service is to refer to Victim Support, all victims or co-victims of crime, trauma, crash or sudden death who need crisis, emotional or practical support, regardless of the nature of the incident or offence type," he said.
"Police advise a victim about Victim Support, and in turn, Victim Support are asked to contact the victim.
"It is up to the victim as to whether they accept and engage with the support service."
Tibbott said the relationship between police and Victim Support was important.
"It is underpinned by a memorandum of understanding signed by the Commissioner," he said.
"The purpose of the MoU is to strengthen and promote a collaborative working relationship between the New Zealand Council of Victim Support and police based on a spirit of goodwill and co-operation by focusing on joint commitment to enhancing the safety, support and restoration of victims.
"When a victim is referred to Victim Support, police depend on their service, and that of other key partner agencies, to provide a 'next level' tier of assistance.
"In doing so, it effectively connects a victim to dedicated services and resources to help in an efficient recovery, both mentally and physically."
Tibbott said Victim Support provided a huge number of services including:
• 24 hour personalised support service for victims at the time of crisis;
• ongoing emotional and practical support;
•referrals to other support services;
• support for victims and their families and prosecution witnesses at the time of contact with the court and justice system;
• financial assistance on behalf of the Crown for victims of serious crime towards the costs of the incident and attending court and other criminal justice processes
• help to prevent repeat victimisation, especially for those at high risk of being victims of crime in the future
• support services at times of major incidents and civil defence emergencies
• advocacy support on the rights and needs of victims
• commitment to working with and providing links to services to victims of other trauma such as suicide, vehicle crashes and emergencies.
"Police have statutory obligations to victims under the Policing Act 2008 and specifically under the Victim's Rights Act 2002," Tibbott explained.
"The Police Victim Focus framework is part of the National Prevention First operating model, which focuses on better recognising our responsibilities to victims by putting them at the centre of any police response.
"An integral part of that response is to connect the victim with appropriate support services who specialise in providing guidance outside of the police network. Victim Support, who are one of our key partners, offer this provision."
Tibbott did not believe the New Zealand public fully understood the work of Victim Support.
"Like many services, the public probably has limited knowledge of the work done by volunteers unless they have been directly involved with that service," he said.
VICTIM SUPPORT - HOW TO HELP
To donate to Victim Support click here.
To find out more about becoming a volunteer or for more information, visit victimsupport.org.nz.
WHAT IS VICTIM SUPPORT
Victim Support is an independent incorporated society that provides a free 24/7 community response to help victims of serious crime and trauma.
Hundreds of volunteers provide emotional and practical support, information, referral to other support services and advocacy for the rights of victims.
This support helps victims find strength, hope and safety in the face of grief and trauma at what may be the worst time of their life.