West Mercia Road Victim Roundtable
Thanks to funding from the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), John Campion, and a partnership with the West Mercia Victim Advice Line (VAL), RoadPeace have been providing dedicated support to crash victims in this region. This project is hugely impactful, and involves a member of RoadPeace staff based within the VAL, able to reach out to those affected by road crashes and offer immediate support. A further member of staff is funded to provide outreach and admin support, helping to grow the knowledge of the charity. Matt Chester, Head of Victim Services for the VAL, explained, “This initiative is an exemplar for agencies working together for a common cause: to provide a quality service to those who have been harmed, to be there with support when needed, and to help them through the trauma that they experience.”
In November, we were able to take this collaboration further, by working together to hold the West Mercia Road Victim Roundtable – an event which we believe was the first of its kind. The aim of the event was to bring all those impacted by road crashes together for a robust discussion on justice and support after a road crash. Attendees included victims, representatives from the police service, fire service, CPS, coroner’s office, local councillors, the West Mercia Road Safety Team and the Victim and Witness Care Unit. The day explored what best practice should look like and ended with a request for all attendees to make a pledge to support crash victims and work to reduce road danger.
The roundtable was opened by PCC Campion, who spoke about his commitment to put victims first and ensure nobody has to suffer alone. Assistant PCC, Paul Middlebrough, then chaired the day, which consisted of a series of talks followed by discussions on set questions. The focus on listening to victims’ experiences was paramount, as RoadPeace Deputy CEO, Sara Dowling, outlined, “Listening to those affected by road trauma provides a powerful opportunity to reflect and learn on what more can be done to support crash victims and reduce road danger.”
PCC John Campion with bereaved members
Moving contributions were made by RoadPeace West Mercia Group Member, Richard Bufton, and RoadPeace Support Services Coordinator, Victoria Mitchinson, both of whom shared their experiences of being bereaved through a road crash. The impact this had was palpable, as the room fell silent, many tearful, as they listened to these direct experiences. Vicky, who spoke in memory of her mum, Jane, said “We provide victims with a voice and empower individuals and families at the time in one’s life when one feels the most powerless. I am so in awe of the mutual support we provide for one another and the compassion and empathy that runs through everything we do.” RoadPeace recognises the courage sharing personal stories has, and would like to give special thanks to Richard and Vicky. The focus on the victims’ voice was maintained throughout the day, with bereaved or seriously injured victims present at each table, and each table dedicated in the memory of those who have had their lives taken in a road crash.
Presentations were made by a West Mercia Roads Policing Sergeant, the CPS, the Road Safety Team and MORSE (an initiative which aims to tackle the root cause of dangerous driving). Questions which were asked throughout the day included:
How can we ensure victims and victim feedback have a place in all that we do?
Where does communication between Family Liaison Officers (FLOs) and families they are deployed to work, and where can it be improved?
What does ‘justice’ mean to crash victims?
Richard Bufton speaking in memory of his son, Joshua
In his summing up of the day, Paul Middlebrough reflected on some of the key points which had been drawn out, including families feeling unable to grieve properly and victims feeling they have to fight a system.
Kate Gynn, who has recently been welcomed to the RoadPeace team as West Mercia Road Victim Care Coordinator said, “The roundtable was such an inspirational thought-provoking event. Being able to hear directly from victims made me realise how important RoadPeace, and my role, in particular, is.”
The next steps to ensure the event has meaningful impact, will be to compile the notes and suggestions into a short report, to be shared with all attendees.
If you are interested in seeing the notes from the day, or would like further information on the roundtable, please contact Lucy Harrison (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Updated on: 15 December 2022