17,298 crimes reported in 2016, Police Victim Support Unit launched
In a pilot project of the Victim Support Unit which began in January, approximately 40 individuals made use of the service per month, according to Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela. Moreover, statistics show that in 2016 alone, 17,298 crimes were reported in Malta.
The new Victim Support Unit run by the Police Force, which was launched yesterday, will give more attention to the human aspect of the police corps, whilst working alongside the investigative aspect, explained the Minister.
Speaking at the press launch, Minister Abela spoke about the importance of such a unit, saying that more often than not, “the police are the first people who meets the victim,” and the unit “will give attention to the human aspect of the police corps” rather than just the investigative angle.
The Minister went on to say that in this pilot project a variety of individuals and cases were seen to, where no particular age group was noted. However, the Minister made reference to the observation that ‘most people were women’.
The Victim Support Unit, run by Inspector Silvana Gafa aims at minimizing the ‘adverse emotional and psychological stresses of Victims of Crime by providing information, support, help and ongoing training to police on victim-centered practices’. Training for police has so far included training in dealing with child abuse victims, whilst the next training will be in domestic violence.
Minister Abela said that since the Victim of Crimes Act was approved in 2015, victims were mentioned however not given “the attention they deserve”.
Inspector Gafa described the unit as being “a single point of contact for victims of crime”, where they will be in contact with NGO’s such as Victim Support Malta, and Appogg, amongst others, to help guide the person seeking help to a more specialized organisation if needed.
Once the individual files the report requesting help, they will be informed about the Victim Support Unit services, Inspector Gafa explained. Once consent is given, the victim will be contacted by the Victim Support Unit and their needs assessment will be conducted, and will by assisted according to their specific needs.
Moreover, practical help will be provided, where clients filing the report will be kept informed about the criminal process, will be guided through the court system and will be given advice on how to prevent further victimisation, elaborated Inspector Gafa.
The Victim Support Unit could be reached on 112 or at any police station. If the individual would need help at a later stage, rather than on the spot, they can contact the Victim Support Unit on 22942160.
Photos: Baskal Mallia