1Plymouth University, Plymouth, United Kingdom
Victim Services provision in England and Wales has undergone a seismic shift in recent years, following the move to the local commissioning of victim services. This commissioning role was, contentiously, given to Local Police and Crime Commissioners (LPCC). The shift has had a major impact upon Victim Support, the long established national victims’ charity. Victim Support is now required to bid for funding at the local level, alongside other victim agencies, rather than receiving funding direct from the Ministry of Justice without question. In most areas of England and Wales Victim Support has been funded by the LPCC, but in some, the agency has not been successful. This is something that Victim Support could never have imagined, in that it had become something of a ‘national treasure’ as the ‘go to’ agency for victims of reported crime. Whilst specialist agencies supporting victims of serious crimes or particular groups have long been in the position of chasing bids from municipal or charitable bodies, they also now have the opportunity to be funded by LPCCs. Whilst this move has been less fundamentally challenging for them, there are impacts for these agencies also. The move to local commissioning has been shaped by the increasing influence of neo-liberalism upon the political economy of the UK, championed by the Conservative government in power from 2012 as a major voice within a Coalition party, and from 2015 as a majority. Part of that neo-liberalism has been the ‘austerity’ agenda. With this in mind the research looks at the impact that this reshaping is having, both on agencies and the victims they seek to help.
Lesley’s interest in victim services and in in particular Victim Support began with her PhD. Since then Lesley has explored the way in which Victim Support developed, particularly in the 2000s under the championship of the New Labour government, to become a single national charity. Since then the influence of Neo-liberalism and ‘austerity’ have re-shaped victim services in England and Wales, with the introduction of local commissioning. This re-shaping is in line with the political economy of Conservatism, and is having a range of impacts on both victim services and the those they seek to assist. As well as researching in this area, Lesley’s teaching interests also relate to victims and the services provided to them.