The Quality Mark is a benchmark for victim services which assesses the service against 5 standards of victims care. There are a number of quality criteria under each standard which are evidenced through performance indicators. It focuses on outcomes and what a service actually delivers.
The process is straightforward. Essentially, we ask you to begin by self assessing your organisation against criteria under each victim care standard and provide us with documentary evidence. Each Quality Mark assessment will be appropriate to the particular organisation being assessed. The process is focused on and designed around achieving effective outcomes; it is not focused on structural or governance issues. Following your self assessment we will make a follow up site visit and speak to key personnel, stakeholders and recipients of the service prior to producing an report and, where necessary, recommendations for improvements.
At the end of the process we write a report on what we’ve found which will include how the service is operating against each of the standards. The report will highlight the areas of excellence and the areas in need of improvement. We will meet with you to discuss whether there are any changes that need to be made to meet the standard of the award and where these are able to be made within a reasonable time we will allow that time before making an award. Organisations receive a glass framed certificate and a digital logo which they can use on promotional literature. We also provide support with promoting the quality mark achievement.
The aim of the Quality Mark is to improve services for victims and witnesses so where an organisation is not likely to pass we will identify the areas that require change. Where changes can be made in an appropriate time then we will allow that time before making the award. Where larger or multiple changes are required we will provide an action plan for service to work on at which point they can apply for reassessment within 12 months at a reduced rate.
The cost is very much determined by the details of each organisation and as a result is tailored appropriately. We consider three things; SCALE – how big the service is and how many aspects of the service need to be considered; EFFORT – how much work is required to carry out the assessment. This involves looking at what processes the organisation has which could be utilised and assessed e.g existing performance quality frameworks, monitoring systems; ROBUSTNESS – how much dip sampling is required to ensure that the assessment is representative of the service. In addition to these we also consider the finances of the organisation. This is because we want to ensure that the costs of the Quality Mark are not prohibitive, particularly for small organisations. In general the costs for a small organisation will be approximately £4000 whereas a larger organisation may need to pay a higher fee £10,000 – £15,000 approximately. A payment plan can be put in place to ensure the investment is more manageable for an organisations cash flow.
We ask you to fill in an application form and an initial payment to get the process started. We then need a completed self assessment form which may take an organisation a few weeks depending on what evidence they can provide. When we have considered the self assessment documents we will arrange a site visit. We will need access to victims and witness feedback so this may involve you arranging for us to speak to victims or passing on their information with consent so we can get their feedback. We will need access to staff (and volunteers, if used) so we can speak to them about the service delivery.
The Supporting Justice team have extensive experience in working in the criminal justice arena and focusing on victims and witnesses. For many years we have been frustrated that there are no industry standards and no independent Quality Mark or assessment based on the effectiveness frontline victim services. At a time when funding for victim services is devolved and where providing effective services for excellent value is more important than ever, we believe a Quality Mark and assessment process is not only desirable but essential. The Quality Mark will provide real benefits for victims, service delivery organisations and funders. Organisations that can demonstrate the effectiveness of their service are more attractive to funders and, crucially, help establish confidence in their client base. We believe that our approach offers the opportunity to improve both quality and consistency of victim services.
The simple answer is that there is no other quality mark that is available to all and specifically designed for generic victim services. Although there are other quality frameworks they have NOT been designed for victims. We have credibility, built over many years, at design, delivery, and assessment of services and are seen as a trusted partner to any organisation with which we engage because we are independent and do not deliver direct services to victims. Our approach is simple: we aim to help and an integral part of the Quality Mark process is to assist in improvement and development, not simply to offer a critique of the services being delivered. We offer experience of strategic, policy and operational focus that translates into an effective source of support and improvement for your organisation.
We have so far awarded two Quality Marks: Derbyshire Victims Services and the Victims and Survivors Service in Northern Ireland and have several others which can’t be announced until the processes have concluded. The organisations who have undertaken the Quality Mark have said “The process was very positive from my perspective. The assessors were friendly, approachable and extremely knowledgeable. They made us all feel at ease and comfortable to speak openly and honestly without judgement or criticism. The process timescales seemed appropriate and flexibility was provided where necessary. The feedback provided felt like an accurate and fair assessment and reflected discussions. Recommendations were insightful, creative and beneficial to enabling us to develop our service.”
Our assessors have a wealth of experience in criminal justice issues especially those relating to victims and witnesses. They have worked in service delivery, developing services, producing learning materials and delivery processes, training staff and volunteers as well as policy and strategy. They have worked in both the Third Sector and central government and have a deep understanding of the issues facing victims and witnesses and how to evaluate and improve the services they need.
We would expect to be able to meet with senior staff, front line staff, volunteers delivering the service (if volunteers are used), potentially stakeholders from key partner agencies and recipients of the service. These interviews will usually be held face to face but we can also conduct some of them via telephone.
Supporting Justice is a Community Interest Company that began in 2013 (formerly called WKM solutions) and was started by Anne Warren, CEO with the aim of providing consultancy services specifically in issues affecting victims, witnesses and their needs.
If you are interested in learning more about the Quality Mark and think it may be of value to your organisation and those to whom you provide services please get in touch. We will be happy to talk you through the process and answer any further questions you may have. We can send you additional information and a formal application form and the self assessment material to help you better understand what the process will consider.
You can use the Quality Mark to promote that your service is of an excellent standard. It is important you tell you staff and volunteers and thank them for their contribution, you might want to use it as the focus of a staff event. You should also tell your funders as they may also want to promote your success. We recommend you put out a press release and use social media to raise awareness of your service for other victims . We will add the Quality Mark logo to your profile on our victims choice website.
A review of the self assessment form will give you an understanding if your organisation is ready for the Quality Mark process. If you are still unsure then we can also offer a short, touchpoint assessment where we will provide a high level light touch report which will indicate if you are “QM ready”. This touchpoint report will usually take a few hours and involve a conversation with a key member of staff (for example, your operations manager). There is a separate cost for this touch point assessment but this costs is deducted from the costs of the full Quality Mark assessment if you go forward within 3 months of the touchpoint assessment.