MERSEYSIDE’S Police Commissioner has appointed a deputy to focus on the needs of victims in the region.

Anne O’Byrne, Liverpool City Council’s assistant mayor, will join crime commissioner Jane Kennedy’s office with the specific aim of concentrating on new responsibilities to commission "vital support services" for victims of crime.

Ms O’Byrne will also take responsibility for increasing the use of restorative justice in the region and the development of community remedies.

Victims of low-level crime and antisocial behaviour will get the chance to meet face-to-face with the criminals who targeted them as part of the scheme, which is currently being introduced in Wirral.

Ms Kennedy said: “Ann has a long and distinguished track record serving the people of Merseyside.

“She has a wealth of experience and knowledge which will be invaluable in helping me ensure all victims on Merseyside are listened to, understood and fully supported.

“She already has strong relationships with many partners in the criminal justice, community, faith and voluntary sectors and she has spent many years campaigning to reduce anti-social behaviour.”

Since Police and Crime Commissioners were elected in November 2012, their remit in relation to victims has grown.

Last autumn, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced Commissioners’ responsibilities would expand to include a wider range of victims’ support services.

A budget of Around £1.175m for Merseyside between March 2015 to March 2016 has been allocated and will include the delivery of services for victims of sexual offences, domestic violence, antisocial behaviour and hate crime.

Ms Kennedy added: “Victims are always at the heart of my priorities and should be for the criminal justice system. That is why I have appointed Ann to focus on this critical area of work.

“My priority must be to commission the best possible services for victims.

“This is a tough task made even harder by the financial constraints we are facing and the devastating cuts to the budgets of our community safety allies.”

Ms O’Byrne will join the commissioner’s office three days a week to focus on this new portfolio of work.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be given this opportunity to serve the people of Merseyside.

“This is a fantastic chance to work with the commissioner, Merseyside Police, all our regional partners and – most importantly of all – people in Merseyside to reduce crime, tackle anti-social behaviour and protect and support victims.”