The demand for a pioneering centre to help victims of crime in North Wales has exceeded all expectations, according to the region’s police boss.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC revealed the Victim Help Centre had received more than 4,300 calls since it opened in July.
As he celebrated his third anniversary in the job, Mr Roddick reflected that setting up the centre – the first of its kind in England and Wales – was his proudest single achievement since taking office in 2012.
The commissioner also wanted to pay tribute to the force for reducing crime at a time of financial cutbacks.
The latest official statistics show that all crime in the area, excluding fraud, has been cut by three per cent.
North Wales Police is the only force in Wales where crime has been reduced – all the rest have experienced increases.
Policing has changed considerably since the commissioner originally trained and worked as a police constable in Liverpool.
Mr Roddick, who was brought up in Caernarfon, later studied law at University College London from which he graduated as a Master of Laws.
He went on to carve out an illustrious career as a barrister, taking ‘silk’ as a Queen’s Counsel in 1986 and later becoming the Leader of the Wales and Chester Circuit, a Recorder of the Crown Court and the first Honorary Recorder of Caernarfon.
In 1986, as a member of the first Welsh Language Board, he was responsible for drafting the report which led to the passing of the Welsh Language Act of that year. He was appointed as the first Counsel General of Wales in 1998, the most senior legal adviser to the Welsh Assembly
Mr Roddick made history again when he was elected as North Wales’s first PCC as part of the UK-wide revolution in the way policing is governed, which saw the old police authorities swept away to be replaced by a single people’s champion accountable directly to the public.
The commissioner was instrumental in establishing the one-stop-shop for victims which covers the whole of North Wales and is based at divisional police HQ in St Asaph.
It brings together the support services of North Wales Police, the Witness Care Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the former Victim Support organisation.
Each victim receives a response specifically tailored to their situation.
Of the thousands of people who’ve called since the centre went operational three months ago, almost 1,500 of them received emotional and practical support from the fully bilingual service.
About 1,800 victims contacting the centre were identified as vulnerable or repeat victims and have gone on to benefit from an enhanced support package.
Mr Roddick said: “The need for centre has been demonstrated in the very short time. We’ve had a huge number of referrals to the centre by people who otherwise might have gone unheard and uncared for.
“Also high on my list of the achievements of which I am proud is the fact that our partners on the Safer Communities Board are currently reviewing the assistance and support afforded to the children of imprisoned parents.
“It was unbelievable that there isn’t already a service to identify these children and provide the required support for the children of imprisoned parents and there are more of those children than there are children in care and there is very strong evidence that the children of imprisoned parents suffer seriously from a lack of support.
“The risks for the children of imprisoned parents turning to a life of crime is considerable and therefore we are working towards a scheme to involve the schools, social services, the health services, the police and other agencies who have anything to do with families.”
Mr Roddick was also very proud of the success of the Rural Crime Team which was set up after he suggested the idea as a way of tackling crime in the countryside.
The team has cut rural crime by two thirds and is now being copied by forces elsewhere in England and Wales and has attracted interest from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.
North Wales Police is also leading the way in combating emerging crimes.
New specialist teams have been set up to deal with cyber crime and child sexual exploitation.
Looking forward, Mr Roddick added: “North Wales Police in the last four years has suffered a loss of about £24 million pounds but it’s so rearranged it is policing priorities so that policing has remained effective.
“Public confidence in the force is high and North Wales Police is doing a very good job in ensuring that people feel secure in their homes and safe in public places.”