Witness support project in line for award
Published by Roisin Rowley-Smith for Riverside in Housing and also in Communities
A ground-breaking witness support programme in Liverpool has been shortlisted for a national award.
Making WAVES (Witness and Victim Encouragement Support) has been shortlisted in the Best Practice category of the Social Landlord’s Crime and Nuisance Group Awards.
Funded by the Ministry of Justice, the programme is run by social landlord Riverside in partnership with Merseyside Police, the Merseyside and Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, Liverpool City Council, Victim Support and other social landlords.
The programme works in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in South Liverpool, helping victims or witnesses of crime by breaking down the culture of fear and intimidation which leaves many crimes to go unreported.
Since the project launched in 2011, the programme has helped witnesses in over 120 cases ranging from anti-social behaviour to attempted murder.
As a result of increased confidence, there has been an increase in the reporting of violent crimes, burglaries and anti-social behaviour. Reporting of drug related crimes has also increased, leading to the closure of a heroin den.
The Making Waves Co-ordinator offers target hardening advice to strengthen the security of buildings making it more difficulty for criminals to attack. This can be anything from issuing a personal alarm to installing CCTV. As a result more witnesses are willing to remain in their homes.
He was also instrumental in the launch of Safe Havens, an initiative which involves shopkeepers, community centres and business owners offering their premises as places of safety where people who feel threatened, vulnerable or intimidated can go to seek shelter.
In addition, he has designed and delivered crime prevention training, developed an Arson Reduction Programme with Merseyside Fire and Rescue, held gun and knife crime workshops in schools and issued SMART water kits to help identify stolen goods.
Steve Brougham, Riverside’s Neighbourhood Manager, said: “By providing independent advice and support to vulnerable witnesses, we are empowering them to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime in their communities.”
He added: “As well as providing an invaluable service to our residents, there is a real cost benefit to Riverside. It is estimated that we spend an average of £4000 per property on re-housing and re-letting but as a result of the work we are doing, victims and witnesses are more willing to stay in their homes. Also by investing in a CCTV system, which we have already deployed over 40 times, we have saved an estimated £58,000 on hiring equipment. These savings are ploughed back into frontline services.”
The results of the SLCNG Awards will be announced on 13 November.