A new service set up to help victims of serious crimes across the Thames Valley, from burglary to sexual assault, has had 18,000 referrals in its first year.

Victims First was set up by the officer of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley one year ago, and aims to support victims of crime across Berkshire, Bucks and Oxfordshire.

During its first year 18,000 referrals have been passed on to Victims First following a range of crimes, including theft, burglary, fraud, rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse.

There were 6,000 referrals for victims under the age of 25 and nearly 3,500 for victims aged over 60, according to a report due to be presented to the Thames Valley Police and Crime panel this week.

Victims are offered free emotional and practical support, regardless of when the crime took place and whether they have chosen to report it to police.

The report states: “The type of assistance available to victims includes telephone and face to face support, advocacy including help to access other services such as sexual health clinics, drug and alcohol services and legal services, support through the criminal justice system (if victims have reported the crime to the police) and therapeutic counselling.”

The service has recently launched a campaign called ‘Know this isn’t Love’ to raise awareness of coercive control and emotional abuse in relationships.

It focuses on the early warning signs of controlling behaviour and emotional abuse to help people spot early warning signs and seek help.