Devolved Budget for Pre-Trial and Outreach Witness Support Services

Reference code: 
PCD 463
Date signed: 
15 October 2018
Authorisation name: 
Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor, Policing and Crime

Executive summary

The Memorandum of Understanding: Working Towards Justice Devolution to London was signed by MOPAC, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and London Councils in March 2018. This document contains a commitment for “MoJ to devolve the pre-trial and outreach support for witnesses in London by April 2019, and to work with London Councils and MOPAC to improve the provision of support and delivering entitlements for victims and other witnesses through the court process more widely.”

MOPAC is commissioning an Integrated Victim and Witness Service, to commence delivery in April 2019.

This decision provides MOPAC’s response to the offer of £480,000 to be devolved by the MoJ for the provision of pre-trial and outreach support for witnesses in London, for the financial year 2019/20.

Recommendation

The DMPC is asked to agree:

  • To accept the offer of £480,000 to deliver pre-trial and outreach support for witnesses in London, for the financial year 2019/20.
  • That the condition for the funding to be devolved by MoJ is adherence to the minimum service expectations, as laid out in Appendix A
  • That this £480,000 funding will be included in the total commissioning budget for the Integrated Victim and Witness Service, to commence delivery in April 2019.

Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)

1.    Introduction and background

1.1.    The Mayor is committed to reducing repeat victimisation and to substantially improving the experience of victims and witnesses through the criminal justice system - from the point a crime is reported to the criminal conviction and beyond. The Mayor’s ambition is to establish an integrated and end-to-end service for victims and witnesses in London, enabling victims to be assessed once (rather than several times), receive care and support from a single person (rather than being passed between agencies) and have consistency in terms of information communicated.

1.2.    The Memorandum of Understanding: Working Towards Justice Devolution to London was signed by MOPAC, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and London Councils in March 2018. This document contains a commitment for “MoJ to devolve the pre-trial and outreach support for witnesses in London by April 2019, and to work with London Councils and MOPAC to improve the provision of support and delivering entitlements for victims and other witnesses through the court process more widely.”

1.3.    Delivery of the commitments in the Memorandum of Understanding is overseen by the London Justice Devolution Board (LJDB) and its subgroups. This Board is chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, and comprises senior officials from the signatory parties.

1.4.    Following discussion at the LJDB and subgroups, the MoJ presented a methodology for the disaggregation of the Court Based Witness Service (CBWS) to London. MOPAC responded to this methodology, and the final offer of £480,000 for the financial year 2019/20 has since been agreed by Edward Argar MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice.

1.5.    MOPAC are commissioning an Integrated Victim and Witness Service (IVWS), to commence delivery in April 2019. The objective is to improve current provision in London, and to deliver an integrated, accessible, responsive, quality support offer for:

  • victims of crime, to aid their ability to cope and recover from the experience and reduce their risk of re-victimisation; and  
  • witnesses, so they are able to attend court and give their best evidence.

1.6.    The devolved funding of £480,000 will be included in the total commissioning budget for the IVWS. The expectations for the pre-trial and outreach support elements for witnesses will be explicitly laid out in the Invitation to Tender.

1.7.    This funding will be provided subject to formal confirmation from the MoJ that the proposed approach to service delivery will provide the necessary support for witnesses (both prosecution and defence) before the Invitation to Tender is published. To this end, the MoJ have provided a minimum service expectations document - see Appendix A.

2.    Issues for consideration

2.1.    The devolution of the pre-trial and outreach support for witnesses assists with the Mayor’s ambition to establish an integrated and end-to-end service for victims and witnesses in London.

2.2.    There is a risk that funding may reduce in future years if the national budget for the CBWS is reduced. This decision only pertains to the acceptance of funding to deliver services in the financial year 2019/20.

2.3.    There is a need for multi-year funding arrangements to be agreed between MoJ and MOPAC. This is a commitment in the Memorandum of Understanding, but discussions are currently tied into the Comprehensive Spending Review.

2.4.    MOPAC can only commit to the delivery of services beyond 2019/20 if the funding is not reduced and a commitment is made by MoJ to agree multi-year funding arrangements.

3.    Financial Comments

3.1.    This decision will commit MOPAC to accepting £480,000 of devolved funding from the MoJ, to be spent in the financial year 2019/20.

4.    Legal Comments

4.1.    MOPAC is entitled to accept funding from central government to assist it in the performance of its functions. 

4.2.    Under MOPAC’s Scheme of Delegation, approval of the strategy for the award of individual grants and the award of all individual grants (for crime reduction or other purposes) is a matter generally reserved to the DMPC (paragraph 4.8). The release of funding in accordance with the proposals set out in this decision form is accordingly to be approved by the DMPC. The delegation of responsibility for the finalisation of planning and contractual/grant arrangements, including relevant terms and the signing of agreements, to the Chief Operating Officer, is in accordance with the general power of delegation in paragraph 5.4.

4.3.    Any commissioning of services should comply with applicable public procurement rules. 

5.    GDPR and Data Privacy 

5.1.    This decision does not involve any privacy considerations. The GDPR and data Privacy implications of the IVWS will be laid out in a separate decision following the commissioning process.

6.    Equality Comments

6.1.    MOPAC is required to comply with the public sector equality duty set out in section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010.  This requires MOPAC to have due regard to the need to: 

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010
  • advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it; and 
  • foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.  

The relevant protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

6.2.    There are no direct equality considerations for the acceptance of this funding, however, when services are commissioned for the IVWS, potential providers will be expected to demonstrate their commitment to equality and how they will provide a service that meets the needs of victims and witnesses.

6.3.    The minimum service expectations (Appendix A) lay out minimum service provision for victims, non-victim witnesses, prosecution and defence witnesses. This specifically includes vulnerable and intimidated witnesses, and young witnesses.

6.4.    The equality implications will be further considered when services are commissioned.

7.    Background/supporting papers

7.1.    Appendix A – Minimum Service Expectations for the pre-trial and outreach support of witnesses in London


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