Evaluation and Feasibility Study of PA’s Crime Victim Statewide Hotline

The public health issue: Crime victim hotlines provide immediate and confidential access to crisis counseling, information about the legal system, and referral to services. These hotlines are not equally distributed throughout population in Pennsylvania, resulting in a lack of adequate support for victims of crime.

Our contribution to the solution: With funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, PHMC’s Research & Evaluation Group conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of Pennsylvania’s hotline services. Findings from the evaluation identified gaps in comprehensive hotline service coverage. Every county in the state has a hotline for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault; however, local county hotlines for other types of crime, such as homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, and fraud are not typically available.

The evaluation findings also revealed inefficiencies in hotline operations. Local hotlines receive lower call volume after regular business hours, yet most hotlines maintain staffing, through paid employees or volunteers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The evaluation also determined that most victims of crime in Pennsylvania are not receiving services through a hotline. Some victims of crime may not wish to seek services through a hotline, while others may not be aware that victim services exist.

Findings from the evaluation were presented to Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Victim’s Services Advisory Committee to aid in future planning.