Starting Victim Services
- Determine how data on community needs will be collectedthrough surveys, focus groups, or town hall meetings, for example, and who will gather and analyze the data. Consider retaining a consultant with research experiencethe consultant's expertise and skill may increase the quantity and quality of data collected.
- Use multiple methods to survey victims to learn about their experiences in the criminal justice system, what would have improved their experiences and their level of awareness, and their use of and satisfaction with local resources.
- Survey law enforcement personnel, staff from other government agencies, and service providers. Seek input on the effectiveness of existing services and resources and gaps in services.
- Gather local crime statistics during a specific time period to learn which crimes are most frequently reported and their rates of prosecution and conviction. Compare reported figures to the numbers of victims seen by community agencies such as domestic violence shelters or rape crisis centers.
- Consider how local demographics can influence which services and outreach efforts are needed—language-appropriate services for a growing non-English speaking population; transportation assistance in a large, sparsely populated jurisdiction; and education on victimization issues and services offered for older adults who may be reluctant to use law enforcement-based victim services.
- Compile and analyze the results. Identify gaps in services and brainstorm solutions for filling those gaps.
- Use the results as a basis for discussion on how the law enforcement-based victim service initiative will build on strengths and address gaps in the community response to crime victims.