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Henrietta Curzon

Looking beyond individual policy areas

Bubble upside down

Having just returned to working in criminal justice sector after a year working exclusively in social care I have been reminded of an assumption that many of us hold but can struggle to put into practice; we can learn a lot if we look outside our own worlds of work.

Entirely by happy accident I had this assumption made true on Monday when IMPOWER published a report on new models in fostering. The report suggests foster carers, in working alongside the council, consider that they are playing their part in the public good, and breaking this link by having the fostering service delivered completely though independent agencies risks breaking this goodwill. On reflection this thinking can also be applied to victims of crime: when ascertaining the best model for supporting victims of crime to cope and recover and to navigate their way through the criminal justice system, the relationship between the victim and criminal justice agencies needs to be considered. Victims want to understand and be understood by the criminal justice system, and have a right to this within the new EU Victims Directive which comes into force next month. Yet if people outside of the criminal justice system take on this role will the victim experience and their relationship with the criminal justice system be at risk? As with the foster carers, will we damage a connection that, whilst hidden in plain sight, underpins a great public good?

On Tuesday, in the Police Crime Commissioning area I am working with, we held a meeting to discuss how to redesign victims’ services to improve their experience through the criminal justice system. In particular, we explored whether to adopt a common needs assessment for victims of crime. In became obvious when discussing this with police colleagues we should be drawing on the experience and learning from the adoption of the children’s common assessment framework to decide if and how this could be beneficial for victims of crime.

This made self-evident the value of looking outside our own sectors and how this can provide evidence, insight and direction that we will not come across if we stick to looking at what works within the same policy arena. This doesn’t happen by accident very often, we have to force ourselves to do it. It’s not a ground breaking point I grant you, but it’s certainly one worth making.

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