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Connect Gwent News

Baroness and PCC launch Connect Gwent

The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales joined the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Gwent today to officially launch a brand new multi-agency service which aims to make a positive and lasting difference to the lives of all victims of crime in Gwent.

The Baroness Helen Newlove of Warrington, the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, was joined by Gwent PCC Ian Johnston this morning to officially launch Connect Gwent - the new victims’ care hub which aims to enhance the quality of support and contact with all victims of crime throughout Gwent. The Baroness unveiled a plaque at the new hub in Blackwood and was escorted by the PCC on a tour of the centre before moving on to the official launch event at Ty Penallta in Tredomen where they were joined by representatives from a range of victims services and partner agencies. 

Situated in the former Blackwood Police station social club building, Connect Gwent has brought a range of agencies and organisations together under one roof for the first time in Wales in order to provide enhanced support which will enable partners to work more effectively and efficiently with victims of crime.

The commissioned service provider within Connect Gwent is Victim Support who is working under the same roof as a range of other key referral partners and agencies to provide specialist support. This includes New Pathways, an organisation which helps adults and children that have been subjected to sexual abuse; Embrace – the national charity which supports child victims of crime up to the age of 18 and South Wales Fire and Rescue Service. Supported by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, a mental health nurse is also based within the hub to deal with mental health referrals relating to victims of crime. Age Cymru are also looking at establishing a presence at the hub to support older victims of crime.
Connect Gwent is being part funded through the Ministry of Justice Victims’ Services grant which has been awarded to PCC Ian Johnston so he can enable the provision of enhanced victim related services in Gwent. The new hub is designed to ensure victims are supported inside and outside the criminal justice process and that they receive the support, information and guidance they need to cope with their ordeal and recover from it.

Construction and renovation work on the new home for Connect Gwent got underway in February 2015 and the PCC appointed a Coordinator to lead on the development of the new service which went live for the first time in April.

Highlighting the importance of his commitment to developing and supporting comprehensive services for victims of crime in Gwent, PCC Ian Johnston was delighted to invite The Baroness Newlove to officially launch Connect Gwent. The Baroness Helen Newlove’s late husband, Garry, was murdered outside their family home in 2007 after a period of escalating Anti-Social Behaviour in the area. She has long been a campaigner for communities and victims.

Speaking before the launch, Baroness Newlove, said: “I know only too well that many victims of crime feel like they are passed from one agency to another – unaware of the services and help available. Victims don’t want a succession of different faces; they want one person who knows about all the criminal justice agencies and the services that might be able to help them.

I am hopeful that the Connect Gwent hub will go some way to address these issues. By locating different agencies in one place, I hope victims will feel there is someone who will act as a motivator, supporter and broker for different services.

It is time to rebalance the system and we don’t need to wait for new codes or laws to do this. I wish Gwent every success with what they are trying to do.”

Welcoming the official launch of the new service, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: “This event marks an important milestone in our journey to develop a forward-thinking and proactive multi-agency hub which ensures that victims of crime remain at the heart of everything we do in Gwent. Everybody involved shares the same vision. It’s about putting the victim first and addressing people’s individual needs, whether they have chosen to report the crime to the police or not. The service has already developed, is continuing to evolve and I’m really excited about the positive difference this new service will have on the lives of all victims of crime.”

Gwent Police Assistant Chief Constable, Lorraine Bottomley, added: “I look forward to seeing the difference Connect Gwent will make to the lives of victims of crime – from the time they report a crime and throughout the criminal justice process. Supporting victims of crime is our priority so anything that can be done at a very local level to make their experience easier and for them to receive more co-ordinated help and support is a very positive development.”

As part of the new service Connect Gwent has also developed a range of online resources which will play a vital role in providing quick and easy access to essential information for all victims of crime in Gwent. 

To access the new Connect Gwent website, please log on to www.connectgwent.org.uk or follow the service on twitter @connectgwent