Friday, 27 June 2014

Devolved commissioning of victim and witness support services: an opportunity for substance misuse services?

Safer Future Communities Consultant Julia Mlambo, based at the London Voluntary Service Council (LSVC), gives us an insight into the way Ministry of Justice commissioning of victim and witness services is changing – and what that might mean for substance misuse services.

Historically the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) commissioned a range of victims and witness support services, nationally. However, from  April  to September 2014, the MoJ will be devolving funding to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to enable them to commission services more responsive to local victims’ and witnesses’ needs.

After October 2014, the MoJ will still retain a small national specialist commissioning portfolio.  However, most of the services previously funded by the MoJ have been told that their funding will only be in place until the end of September. After that, it will be up to local PCCs to decide whether they want to continue to support them.

As well as devolving the commissioning of services, the MoJ has said that it will increase the amount of funding available to procure services, to encourage PCCs to commission innovative interventions. These new resources are likely to mean more opportunities for criminal justice related providers, including substance misuses services.

It is worth being aware of some of the key legislative and policy drivers that will affect the commissioning of victims and witness services over the next few years. Some of these are laid out below:

MoJ Victims' Service Commissioning Framework (May 2013) – Sets out principles to underpin the commissioning of Victims Services, setting out the 8 category of need. These are areas in which service providers should aim to support people to achieve improvements in their lives post victimisation. Categories include ‘mental and physical health, drugs and alcohol, finance and benefits etc. 

The EU Directive on Minimum Standards on the Rights, Support and Protection of Victims of Crime (2012) - The directive sets out victims’ rights, outlines what support should be available to victims and promotes the use of restorative justice interventions. 

Changes in the commissioning of health related justice services - responsibility for the commissioning services such as health care in police custody suites, sexual assault referral services (SARCs) will be transferred from the Police Service to NHS.  In light of these changes, in some areas, there are plans to retender these to improve costs and quality.

If your organisation offers innovative substance misuse interventions in the criminal justice field, you may find you have access to new funding opportunities.  Now is the time to contact your local PCC to see what their future commissioning intentions are.

Thanks to Julia Mlambo, Safer Future Communities Consultant, London Voluntary Service Council (LSVC) for this blog.  If you have any questions or would like any further information, please contact Julia at 

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