A pilot service offering online support to victims of crime in West Yorkshire has been launched.
The Live Chat service, run by the Victim Support charity, has gone live today (Monday) after receiving a funding boost.
It will run as a trial until March and will allow victims of crime to speak online to specially-trained support staff.
West Yorkshire will be one of just a select number of areas testing the service in the UK, after the charity was given £13,000 by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
The funding was agreed by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson.
Lesley McLean, Victim Support’s manager, said: “The Live Chat service means that victims of crime can now speak to a supporter online and is another opportunity for people to access support.
“It provides an alternative to people who perhaps don’t want to meet someone face to face or speak on the telephone.
“I want to thank the PCC for his support in ensuring victims of crime can access services with another option available to them.”
The service will be available from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday across West Yorkshire via the Victim Support website.
Mark Burns-Williamson (PCC ) said: “I am very pleased to be able to support this Live Chat service pilot as being a victim of crime can have a significant impact on a person’s life, on their family and in their community, so accessing timely support in this way is vital.
“I want to encourage and support all organisations to identify innovative ways of supporting victims of crime and this is another way of looking to ensure victims have access to direct emotional and practical support in line with modern, accessible and confidential services.
“The Victims Code sets out the services which will be provided across the region to ensure specialist help is provided to support victims and their families to cope and recover from the impacts of crime, particularly the most vulnerable.
“People can also access support at our Help for Victims website which will soon have a link to the victim Support Live Chat function pilot at www.helpforvictims.co.uk and look forward to seeing how the service progresses during this period.”
For more information visit www.victimsupport.org.uk or call Victim Support on 0300 303 1971.