Service deliveryDigital Customer ServiceMicrosoft technology to help victims of crime

Microsoft technology to help victims of crime

Victim Advice Line (VAL) is up-and-running with live chat solution to help victims of crime and is seen as best practice in victim support

West Mercia Police is using Microsoft technology to help victims of crime get support when they need it most.

Thousands of people who become victims of crime every year will be able to speak to care coordinators via live chat and keep track of their support plan online as part of a new digital plan by one UK police force.

A unique move

The force is taking responsibility for ensuring that victims get the support they need at the right time. They are doing this by creating an in-house service called the Victim Advice Line (VAL). The VAL is a free and confidential service for people that have been affected by crime in West Mercia.

It is designed to make sure that the needs of victims and witnesses are supported at every stage of their journey. This is regardless of their choosing to report it to the police or not. The expert and fully-trained Victim Care Coordinators will work with victims to understand exactly what kind of help and support they need in their journey of recovery.

Understanding that everyone’s experience of crime is different, they will agree a specially tailored support package for each person. This might include relevant advice booklets, contact numbers for counselling or other support services, help with insurance forms, guidance through the criminal justice process or talking about the benefits of Restorative Justice. It also provides information on other topics, such as individual rights, personal and online safety and going to court. This is a unique move to help victims.

Customisable computer system

West Mercia Police will merge this service with its own police systems to help victims. The service will be hosted on the Azure cloud and use Dynamics 365’s Customer Relationship Management software.

As officers investigate a crime, Victim Care Coordinators in the VAL will be able to quickly and easily see how the victim care plans are being managed. They will also be able to see who is responsible for key tasks. They will monitor the progress in the case and look at ways they can help the member of the public who contacted them.

Victims of that crime can also log in to a secure website to see status updates, key information, guidance and how they can contact the Victim Care Coordinators in the way they want. Some people may feel more comfortable chatting online rather than speaking to them on the phone, for example.

Matthew Chester, Head of Victim Services at West Mercia Police, said: “Feedback from victims demonstrated the need for a single point of entry, quick updates on their case, and greater ownership of their journey. We’ve made best use of technology to deliver this priority initiative quickly, cost-effectively and with minimal operational or financial risk.”

He added that the decision to work closely with Microsoft partner Tisski to create the solution “will ensure we can maintain a high quality, professional and compassionate service whilst minimising the overhead on valuable operational resources”.

Help in a digital world

Chris Perkins, General Manager of Public Sector at Microsoft UK, said: “By having a single view of cases from end-to-end, West Mercia Police will be able to give victims of crime a personalised and joined-up service during a difficult time in their lives.

“Dynamics 365 will ensure staff can work together seamlessly, with the latest data and insights at their fingertips, so they can continue to put the public first and help the community in a digital world.”

Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides the tools to digitally transform local government and the public sector. It combines a range of features, such as customer service, with data analysis tools, artificial intelligence and Power BI to give firms a unique insight into how they work. It is being used by many public sector organisations to improve how they work, be more efficient and reduce costs.

Being a Customer Relationship Management solution, it can still be the framework to build applications and solutions centrally with point and click technology.

Big changes in victim support

The new service is part of West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PPC) John Campion’s commitment to ensuring victims of crime receive an improved and more consistent service.

It is also being seen as best practice to help victims and the support system has already been adopted by other PCCs and police forces

Campion said: “I am delighted to be officially launching the Victim Advice Line. This new service marks the beginning of big changes to the way victims are supported.

“By working with an individual and making sure they’re getting the level of support they need, and deserve, we’re sure to see those affected by crime moving on with their life with greater confidence.”

Following the Government Transformation Strategy 2017 to 2020, there has been substantial progress made towards how the government agencies use digital to transform. There has been work with regards to ethical principles to guide police facial recognition trials by an independent Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG). The UK Police Forces were set to start using analytical tools for solving crime analytical tools made accessible via Azure. Iris scanning and facial recognition biometric technology have been successfully trialled at three prisons to halt the prison drug supply.

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