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Guest blog post from Emma Martin, New Zealand Police.

We’re a small team currently based at Police National Headquarters, working on behalf of a group of government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the Victim of Crime Life Event initiative (VoCLE). This is a digital innovation initiative that forms part of the Service Innovation Programme.

In this post we’ll tell you a bit about VoCLE and what we’re trying to achieve. Over the next few weeks we’ll be back to update you on how we’re getting on, and what we’ve learned so far.

What is a life event?

From time to time, people experience major events that bring about change in their lives (e.g. having a baby, entering tertiary education, experiencing the death of a loved one, or becoming a victim of crime). These events often trigger interactions with multiple service providers (government agencies, NGOs, private sector providers etc).

While all these service providers strive to deliver the best service they can for their customers, no-one is responsible for optimising the service experience people receive across the system as a whole. This means service users often do a lot of metaphorical (or sometimes literal!) running back and forth between providers to get what they need. The whole process can be confusing and time-consuming. To tackle these kinds of problems, a new service design approach is needed – one which puts the service user at the centre.

Becoming a victim of crime

The 2014 New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey estimated that 865 000 adults were the victim of one or more personal or household offences in 2013. Of these people, 46% were impacted ‘very much or quite a lot’. This equates to more than one in ten adult New Zealanders.

Unlike some other life events, such as having a baby or entering tertiary education, becoming a victim of crime usually happens without warning. It’s not something people plan for, or research in advance. Instead people often find themselves catapulted into a service landscape they don’t understand, at a time when they’re at their most stressed and vulnerable.

Service providers might not be able to fully remove the trauma of the initiating event, but collectively we can and should design our services to be as easy as possible for victims of crime to interact with, so that we are able to reduce the impact of crime on people’s lives, rather than compound it.

The VoCLE Stewardship Group

The VoCLE initiative kicked off in 2016. Our Stewardship Group includes representatives from NZ Police, Victim Support, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Development and Accident Compensation Corporation, as well the Chief Victims Advisor to Government and a GP who is a Medical Sexual Assault Clinicians Aotearoa Board member and Police Medical Officer. The Stewardship Group operates according to the Constellation Model of Collaborative Governance. (We’ll share a bit about how this model has worked for us in one of our future posts.)

The Stewards’ shared vision is to reduce victims’ stress and improve their wellbeing.

The key project objective is to provide integrated digital services that will complement and support other services to victims, such as face-to-face, rather than replace them. As part of the Service Innovation Programme, VoCLE is also expected to deliver common digital service capability which can be made available for reuse across the service ecosystem.

Why digital?

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has carried out research into the problems New Zealanders experience when they interact with government. Some of those problems – for example, the need to provide the same information to multiple service providers – could be addressed with digital solutions. There are some really exciting ideas being developed in the government digital innovation community, and we think there may be opportunities to apply some of these ideas to the service landscape for victims of crime.

But first we need to do the hard work of understanding what is really going on for people when they become a victim of crime.

One thing we do know is that human contact is and will remain an essential part of service provision to victims of crime. Our project is only a small part of getting things right for victims. But by taking a cross-agency approach, we can investigate innovation opportunities that service providers wouldn’t be able to tackle on their own.

We’re taking an agile and customer-centric approach, which we’re hoping will be a catalyst for new ways of working within our partner agencies. In our next blog post, we’ll share how our initial Discovery work has shaped our project approach.

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