Published 23rd June 2021

A victims’ support service which has adapted its services to help victims of crime during the Coronavirus pandemic has been commended by Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) John Dwyer.

Cheshire CARES (Cope and Recovery Enhanced Service) is the county’s flagship victims’ support service which offers support to all victims of crime in Cheshire. It is funded by the PCC.

Like many services, when the pandemic broke out in March 2020, Cheshire CARES quickly adapted its service model so it could offer an increased number of victims support via the telephone or online.

Despite this change in its operating model, it still managed to receive almost 66,000 referrals between April 2020 and March 2021, with 23,000 victims accepting extended support offered by Cheshire CARES.

This included more than 3,600 victims of serious crimes such as domestic abuse, sexual assault or hate crime.

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PCC John Dwyer congratulated the team for its achievements during a visit to the service. He said: “Cheshire CARES was the first in-house victims’ support service in U.K. policing which I established in 2015 during my first term as PCC.

“It’s fantastic to see it continues to do a tremendous job of ensuring victims of crime are able to recover from their ordeal and get back to their normal lives.

“Being a victim of crime can have a significant and long-lasting impact on health and wellbeing and the feelings of safety. Cheshire CARES work closely with victims to ensure they don’t have to cope alone and that victims are offered support from relevant agencies.

“I have been very impressed with how CARES has adapted its services to respond to the pandemic and I would like to thank them for continuing to provide an excellent service at a time of crisis.”

The service is designed to give victims and witnesses support at every stage of their journey, whether they have reported the crime to the police or not.

Victim care officers from Cheshire CARES support each victim of crime through a detailed needs assessment and then agree a recovery plan, calling on specialist services as required.

As a part of assessing victims’ needs, the team will identify potential support pathways and will discuss these with the individual to ensure that any referral can go ahead.

The CARES team work closely with local providers and voluntary and community sector organisations that will support victims through their recovery.

It is also continuously seeking to improve the service to meet the needs of victims. A recent survey and an assessment of victims’ needs across Cheshire will be used to ensure appropriate support is in place.

Almost 60 per cent of victims supported by Cheshire CARES over the last year have said their wellbeing has improved as a result of the help they were offered.

This included Neil, 52* who was a victim of domestic abuse and historic sexual abuse. He was offered emotional support and advice from Cheshire CARES to help him recover from both crimes. He said the support he was offered from CARES was “a lifeline in a time of crisis”.

If you’re a victim of crime in Cheshire who requires support, find out more about how to get in touch with Cheshire CARES: Cheshire CARES (cheshire-pcc.gov.uk)

*Names and ages have been changed to protect victims’ identity.