VICTIMS of crime will now be supported through services appointed by Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martyn Underhill.

As part of a nationwide move, those affected by crime, or who witness offending, will be referred to services overseen by PCCs from April 1, 2015.

Previously, the majority of these services nationally were funded by the Ministry of Justice.

In June this year, Mr Underhill was the first PCC in the country to commission a local service for victims.

Victim Support was contracted by the Dorset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to provide an enhanced service to the county’s victims for the next three years. That contract has now come into effect.

The independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime will continue to provide confidential support and free advice until 2017, with the introduction of a 24-hour helpline for victims of crime and additional support for victims of anti-social behaviour and business crime.

The size of the Victim Support team in Dorset will also double.

Mr Underhill said: “This new contract is really exciting and is about putting the focus back on victims rather than the offender, supporting them through their whole journey and not just on the day of the crime.

“I am really proud that we are the first in the country to award this contract. This will make the victim’s journey easier and hopefully shorter.”

Rhiannon Evans, Victim Support divisional manager for Dorset, said: “This new contract gives us the opportunity to provide a more enhanced service to victims and to reach out to many more victims than we have been able to in the past. “We know from helping thousands of victims and witnesses across Dorset every year how often people affected by crime need help to move on and this new service will give them the practical and emotional support they need.”

Victim Support is the independent charity for victims and witness of crime in England and Wales.

Last year it offered help to more than one million victims of crime and supported more than 200,000 witnesses as they gave evidence at criminal trials through its Witness Service.