Friday, 22 January 2016

Lets Look at E3 (6)

Chapter 5 Victims

5.1 What does the model look like now? 

The NPS has a statutory duty (Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004) to consult and notify victims of sexual or other violent offences about the release arrangements for offenders where they are sentenced to 12 months or more in custody or those detained under the Mental Health Act 1983. This statutory duty is supported by the requirements of the Victims Code and guidance on the Victim Contact Scheme (VCS). 

The VCS requires the Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) to contact and offer the victims of offenders a service within two months of the sentence being passed. The victims who choose to participate in the scheme may make representations about the offender’s licence or discharge condition, and receive certain information about the key stages of the offender’s sentence from the VLO. The NOMS specification for the provision of victim liaison confirms the VCS as a service for communicating and providing information to victims, not for counselling or advocating for them. Where appropriate, referrals can be made to organisations who can more appropriately provide support, counselling and advocacy services. 

The NPS can exercise discretion to offer the VCS to victims who do not statutorily qualify (usually the offender is serving under 12 months) but present a high risk of harm to the victim. These are usually cases involving stalking and harassment, hate crimes or domestic abuse.

There are approximately 27 Victim Contact Units (VCUs) across the NPS. They have different staffing arrangements; some have administrative hubs based separately from VLO staff, other administrative staff are based within the VCUs and some units have no administrative support. Some VLOs are co-located within Offender Management Units and others hold surgeries to strengthen the interface between OM and the VLO. Some VLOs are employed as band 3 and others at band 4. A significant variation is that VCUs use a variety of databases, which makes it difficult to obtain national data or to share information. There is a pressing need for a national system. 

We have inherited arrangements with no clear equitable, measurable allocation of cases based on low, medium and high complexity considerations, where VLO workloads vary and resource is not equitably allocated. 

Some VCUs do not have (or do not have the required level of) administrative support; and this is exacerbated by the lack of, or limited functionality, within the existing local victim databases. These databases vary significantly in type and levels of functionality. Some lack the ability to record information effectively, to generate letters, and to provide prompts or relevant data.

5.2 What do we want the future model to look like? 
We will have a delivery model which will provide clarity as to the specific roles of administration and victim liaison; and within this, we will establish a consistent set of processes which clearly identifies who is responsible for doing what. This approach will enable us to maximise the quality of the engagement between the VLO and the victim, whilst organising administration into a lean, consistent model.

There is no specific change being proposed to any of the roles or the work that administrative staff and VLO will do, other than to provide clarity and consistency of task. Within the context of the broader programme, we propose a flexible workforce that will have clear roles, duties and responsibilities and enhance the relationship between offender management and victim liaison. 

There will be a consistent approach to victim liaison within the NPS and how the activity is organised. Specifically, this relates to how tasks are apportioned to administration and VLO functions. In addition to this there will be a national database with a nationally agreed framework for victim contact cases. 

5.3 End state proposals 
Our proposal is to standardise the operation for the Victim Liaison Unit (VLU) in line with the service specification for victim services. Successful delivery will see the effective organisation of administration processes which will allow (and maximise) the VLO resource to focus specifically on the quality of the engagement with the victim. Our proposal is dependent on the implementation of a new Victim Case Management System (VCMS) and the associated training of all Victim Services staff to use the system to best effect. Without the VCMS, the organisational proposal for administration will not be possible. This approach will enable effective management of the expectations of victims and other services, and achieve a more unified, consistent VLO work force. Finally, there is scope for further harmonisation, for example, the provision of templates and checklists to ensure best practice is followed. 

As stated earlier, there is currently a variation in the pay “banding” of VLOs with some at pay band 3 and others at band 4. Our view is that the VLO role can appropriately be undertaken by band 3 staff. This is subject to the review of the job description and the job evaluation process.

5.3.1 Administrative Hubs 

Our proposal is to separate out the victim administrator role, using actual or virtual hub models, thus enabling VLOs to focus on the direct work with victims. The hubs will receive referrals, engage with agencies for information, maintain records and provide support for the service. They will increase efficiency through the provision of a consistent ‘pathway’ of victim engagement and ensuring specific actions are achieved. Furthermore, they will provide a single point of contact for stakeholders (including external agencies), which will significantly improve the coordination of information relating to victim-offender contact; and therefore reduce the risk of poor victim experience.

5.3.2 VLO work 

As stated above, it is important that we develop an organisational approach to measuring the victim caseload. This will allow the development of a consistent approach to resource and workload management, which will ensure the NPS is directing the right amount of resource, in the right place, at the right time (maximising impact and effectiveness). The illustration below provides an initial draft proposal by which cases could be considered, according to level of involvement required. However we need to do more work to refine the details of this approach and model further. 

As Low & Medium, plus more regular face to face contact, more liaison with OM/partnerships, check safety plan still applies. Attend oral hearing if no other agencies can attend. If risk increases refer to MARAC/MAPPA and attend these meetings. 

As Low, plus face to face contact to assist with personal statement. Send written updates to MARAC/ MAPPA/attend oral hearings if no other agencies can attend. If risk increases, move to high support. 

Send initial letter/leaflet, follow up, receive and assess information from others if assistance is accepted & complete Risk Assessment. Carry out a visit (face to face) and, write up notes of meeting and send to the victim. After that, contact the victim when you receive triggers for ROTL, HDC or release on licence and update the victim annually. Sign post if required.

5.4 Impact on service delivery 

We believe that the ‘separation’ of the administrative hub from the VLO victim engagement work and the establishment of a Single Point Of Contact (SPOC) will significantly improve the quality, timeliness and consistency of the information we receive and enable follow up at key points within the process. In addition to this, there will be an improved flow of information gathered by the SPOC from within the NPS and from outside wider criminal justice agencies. For example from witness care and independent domestic violence advocates (IDVAs), which will enhance the quality of information/intelligence received by the VLO; and consequently enhance the engagement work with victims. 

5.5 Impact on staff 
Our proposal to have a divisional hub will mean changes to processes and the potential relocation of some administrative staff. This will provide significant benefits in service delivery.

5.6 Conclusion 

We believe that by separating the administrative hub from VLO role, the organisation will achieve role clarity between the administrator and the VLO role. Consequently, there will be better consistency of service delivery to victims and the wider criminal justice service across the seven regions. The ultimate result will be that VLOs will be able to focus more time on victim engagement work. The strong inter-relationship between the work stream and the VCMS project will ensure that the new approach to data management can maximise the efficiency of the victim liaison process; improve the effectiveness of the current delivery model; and improve the service for victims.

(more to follow)

As an aside, this today on the BBC website:-
Victim services at risk unless MoJ confirms funding, PCCs warn

Services for crime victims in England and Wales could close or lose staff because the government has not confirmed their funding, police and crime commissioners have said.

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners says it has had no confirmation about funding from April. It has asked for a three-year grant to help plan for the long-term and give victims' groups more certainty. The government said details would be sent to PCCs "imminently".

But the BBC's home affairs correspondent, Danny Shaw, said it was understood those details would not include any guaranteed funding beyond the first year. The Ministry of Justice gave PCCs £63m for victims' support services for the 2015-16 financial year.

But the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, a national body that represents all 41 commissioners in England and Wales, says it has had no confirmation about funding from April despite contacting government officials "almost every day".

With many contracts coming to an end in March, PCCs are calling on the MoJ for urgent clarification of the grant available so they can commission services. Vera Baird, Northumbria PCC and chair of the APCC's supporting victims group, said PCCs were "still in the dark about how much money we will have to support victims of crime and vulnerable people".

She added: "The uncertainty created by this delay means that help and support for victims and vulnerable people may not be available in some areas putting people at greater risk."

Sue Pearce, chief executive of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland, a charity supporting victims of rape and sexual assault, said: "The delay in hearing about this funding is a huge cause for concern, forcing us into a position of great uncertainty where we are unable to plan ahead and ensure sure that we're able to continue all our work in supporting the people who depend on us."

An MoJ spokesman said: "Providing funding for victims services is a key priority for the Ministry of Justice. "Specific funding allocations will be communicated to PCCs imminently."


  1. Whatever the arguments for the appropriate pay band for VLOs, they preempt the job evaluation process by declaring their preference for Band 3. The JE process is all smoke and mirrors. Should the unions rethink participation?


  2. They say in conclusion "We believe that by separating the administrative hub from VLO role," This is a belief no hard fact to say this is what it is classic spin!

    " the organisation will achieve role clarity between the administrator and the VLO role." Ask Every VLO and administrator they have no role drift or merge or lack of clarity of their duties. The author of this is pure dishonesty where is the quoted research to illustrate the claim ?

    " Consequently, there will be better consistency of service delivery to victims and the wider criminal justice service across the seven regions."
    Really what is not consistent about it now? Where is the improvements to be drawn other than as a consequence. The use of consequence is not a positive it is most likely a disaster yet to come for victims and no mention of trying to pilot a small sample to see how improvement could be tested then negotiated as a betterment. No just the usual plan A no B and no pilot or research. Propaganda.

    "The ultimate result will be that VLOs will be able to focus more time on victim engagement work."
    Ultimate really what a loaded term the author of this is exaggerating an outcome so the reader buys into the scam. Ask any VLO they spend 80% of their time victim facing already and do a great job.

    "The strong inter-relationship between the work stream and the VCMS project will ensure that the new approach to data management can maximise the efficiency of the victim liaison process;"
    This means we want to place all the VLO work on a PC terminal writing about things as opposed to doing things with victims.

    " improve the effectiveness of the current delivery model; and improve the service for victims."
    Well there we are an allegation veiled that we are currently not effective need to improve and the model remains but interfered with. If isn't broke springs to mind but wisdom is not an NPS attribute.
    Good luck all NPS colleagues we are going to need it with this lot in charge of the House.

  3. Proof if ever it were needed that E3 has long been decided and agreed by management. VLOs all over the UK came together to present a collective Job Specification to be taken forward in the harmonisation process which has obviously been dismissed. The management are dictators and ruthless interested in nothing more than cutting budgets, staff and quality. The language used in these releases is arrogant, patronising and dismissive, with large sections cut and pasted into every one. NAPO have been complicit in the decimation of the Probation Service with lazy national officials passing the buck and taking the easy route to resolution ie: Job cuts. I presume member numbers are down since direct debit but what have the National officials done to raise the profile or recruit. What are the consequences of low members numbers in the NPS and is the union position even weaker. There are many victims in this process including staff being bullied by the MOJ but without committed, legally knowledgeable officials and area reps the decline will continue. Democracy has long gone, care of staff a distant memory, professional I.T systems cancelled and pay falling year on year. Unemployment is an attractive proposition to this lot. Its conservatism at its very best

    1. A passionate post and yet the NPS will read this as they use the Blog as a BAROMETRE for opinion on what they do next. Yes we know you do read the blog so read on bureaucrats you know we know ! The change that might defelct this latest incompetent attack on VICTIMS of serious crime (this is not about offenders) is that the office penny pichin boffins place zero value on the experience of the VICTIMS of serious personal crimes. People who are VICTIMS have nothing spent on their well being support and future say and will have even less as this change agenda takes hold. Well we think you may have gotten this one completely wrongt as the VICTIMS come forward and the media will look at this incredibly disproportionate plan to attack staff and remove VICTIM services that they are entitled to. We Hope many VLOs come forward here and ensure you see the Barometer weather report is red hot as we hope VICTIMS also come forward and post some views to .

  4. The NPS does not need a barometer. It makes the weather. It plays God.

    1. Welcome to the New Ice Age. Narnia is in the icy grip of Cameron & his wealthy chums - he's just nipped off to snowy Davos to re-freeze the icepak he calls a heart.

  5. This E3 is the dogs bollox
    Brilliantly crafted
    Great intention and vision

  6. This is the start of detaching victims services from probation. Charities will eventually run victims services.