Press releases - Archived

The following press releases can be viewed via this page:

Children and young people benefit from range of improved services, says Victim Support

Young victims of crime are now being offered a greater level of support and practical help by the national charity, Victim Support, following its campaign to show the extent of crime against 12 to 16 year olds.

Many of Victim Support's services for children and young people have been developed or improved since its young victims campaign in February 2003, which found that one in four of those questioned had been victims of crime in the last twelve months. Violence, assault and theft were the most common offences.

A new review of the charity's work has highlighted the extent of its services to support young people, and gives examples of local initiatives.

In Humberside, school children aged 5 - 13 are offered information and help after a crime, and at Victim Support and the Witness Service Bolton, in Greater Manchester, staff and volunteers are working with other agencies to target homophobic bullying in schools. Secondary school students in Brent in northwest London are working with their local branch of Victim Support to focus on the effects of domestic violence and gun crime, while Victim Support Cornwall's ABC (Anti-bullying in Cornwall) initiative now employs three project workers across the county.

Young Victims of Crime Co-ordinator at Victim Support Humber, Helen Horvath, says: "We're now dealing with more than 100 referrals every month, so there's a real need for this service and so far, the feedback from young people and their parents has been very positive."

Area Manager of Victim Support Cornwall, Sally Piper, says: "Our project has gone from strength to strength and has enabled us to forge strong links with local schools to help them develop anti-bullying policies and initiatives, such as peer support groups in secondary schools and 'playground pals' in primary schools. We're now developing a resource manual and information leaflets."

Head of Research & Development at Victim Support, Peter Dunn, says: "We're encouraged to see that our services are addressing victims' needs, although we need more resources to help us develop this work at local and national level. If young people are offered effective support after a crime, they'll stand a better chance of putting those experiences behind them and grow in confidence as they become adults."

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Euro 2004 fans offered support in Portugal with help from UK crime charity

English football fans and visitors to the Euro 2004 tournament, who are affected by crime in any way during their stay, will be able to get help and information in Portugal thanks to a partnership between the country's authorities, British police officers and Victim Support.

A specially trained volunteer from Victim Support Trafford will travel to Portugal. She will be working with local organisations (including the Portuguese police force and the Portuguese victims' association, APAV) and British police officers sent over for the event, to offer support to anyone who needs it. It will then be possible to refer victims to local branches of Victim Support in the UK on their return, if more help is required.

This initiative has been set up by Victim Support Trafford where staff and volunteers have considerable experience in dealing with football crowd-related incidents. They will also build on the knowledge gained of large-scale sporting events after Manchester hosted the Commonwealth Games two years ago.

Vicky Wardle of Victim Support Trafford says: "Being a victim of a crime in a foreign country can be very disturbing. We'll make sure that our contact numbers and leaflets are readily available throughout the tournament to ensure that anyone who needs help gets it."

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Victim Support and ASDA urge crime victims to seek support in supermarkets

Victims of crime are being encouraged to get practical help and support at 'drop-in' centres in ASDA supermarkets, as part of a new initiative between the leading retailer and the national charity, Victim Support.

Staff and volunteers from Victim Support will be available to offer support to supermarket customers in and around London and at other selected stores across the country. The participating branches provide a visible stall in the foyer area of each store and private rooms for free and confidential face-to-face support.

The new scheme has already proved successful in providing effective support for a number of victims, who said the initiative was their first port of call for help by offering a safe and anonymous environment to talk about their experiences. Victim Support says it is particularly keen to help people who have not reported the crime to the police.

The scheme is currently operating in ten London stores and several stores outside the capital. It is hoped that the scheme will eventually be extended to all 652 ASDA stores nationwide.

Clive West, Stores of the Community Director at ASDA comments: "The Victim Support scheme is a further extension of ASDA's commitment to working closely with local communities."

"We've had an overwhelming response from victims of crime seeking advice in an informal and relaxed environment, who may not have otherwise found the confidence to seek help. We hope to build on this success in many more stores across the country."

Chief Executive Officer at Victim Support London, Anne Coughlan, says: "Judging by the early feedback to this scheme, we were right in thinking that many thousands of people in London have felt unable to seek support and advice to help them deal with the impact of crime. We're delighted that this new partnership with ASDA is already proving very successful in reaching out to people who may not otherwise have contacted us."

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Witness Service expands to support UK armed forces personnel at courts martial

British personnel at service bases in England, Wales and Germany will now be offered support and information at courts martial under a new agreement between Victim Support and the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force.

Trained staff and volunteers from the Witness Service, run by Victim Support, will provide practical help and emotional support to witnesses and victims acting as witnesses - as well as family members and friends - to help them cope with the experience of giving evidence at a trial.

The agreement between the armed forces and the national charity will formalise and expand the Courts Martial Witness Service, which has already been operating successfully for some time at several bases, including Plymouth, Aldershot, Colchester, Catterick, Bulford and Portsmouth. Courts Martial Witness Service volunteers based in Surrey also provide a service to military court centres in Germany.

Brigadier Peter Walker OBE, who has management responsibility for the administration of army and RAF trials, says: "We want our service personnel to know that they'll receive exactly the same quality of support as witnesses in criminal and civil courts. The Witness Service has a very positive and reassuring effect on courts martial, because service personnel, their families and civilians attending military courts know that their needs for support and understanding are being met. And ultimately, that's good for morale."

Stephen Hanvey, Head of Members' Services at Victim Support, says: "We're very pleased that we've been able to develop the Courts Martial Witness Service after finalising this agreement with the armed forces. Everybody feels that this type of service is essential, because it will ensure that personnel are being treated fairly, no matter where they're based.

"A soldier in Colchester or a naval officer in Plymouth can now expect to receive the same level of support when they're called to give evidence. Appearing at a trial can unnerve and intimidate anyone, whatever their rank or experience, so it's clear that all witnesses have their needs."

Since 2002, the Witness Service has had a presence in every criminal court in England and Wales to offer support to civilian witnesses and victims of crime. Last year, its staff and volunteers offered support, information and practical help to more than 330,000 people.

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New domestic violence guidelines to drive service improvement, says Victim Support

Victim Support has produced new guidelines to help its member charities across England and Wales provide a comprehensive service to both male and female victims of domestic violence.

The national charity has worked with a range of specialists, including its own staff and other organisations, to produce Practice guidance for supporting victims of domestic violence, which includes sections on forms of abuse, safety, the perpetrators of domestic violence, support for parents and disabled people, and working with young victims.

The guidelines describe Victim Support's standards and requirements for delivering a service to victims and outline the services offered by Victim Support branches across the country, as well as practice guidance for supporting young victims and Victim Support's role in partnership work with other agencies.

Victims of domestic violence will receive emotional support, information about other relevant agencies, help with producing safety plans and time to consider their options in a safe place, support in court through the charity's Witness Service (if people choose to take legal action), and help for victims who apply for criminal injuries compensation.

Victim Support's Head of Research & Development, Peter Dunn, says: "We constantly strive to improve our services to all victims and witnesses of crime, so these guidelines will build on what we already know and help our staff and volunteers provide a safe, confidential and relevant service within a tight, new framework. Domestic violence has a devastating effect on victims' lives and affects both men and women from all backgrounds, ages and classes. As well as continuing to support female victims of domestic violence, we also want to reach out to male victims, people in same-sex relationships and older people who are abused by their children, to help them regain control of their lives."

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Millions of victims still coping with crime alone warns charity on its 30th anniversary

Despite recent improvements in the criminal justice system, the victims of around 7 million crimes a year are still left to cope largely on their own, warns Victim Support today (26 February 2019). The issue is highlighted in a new report 30:30 vision published to mark Victim Support Week and the charity's 30th anniversary. The report looks at progress in helping victims and witnesses since the first Victim Support scheme was set up in Bristol in 1974. Since then, Victim Support has grown into a national voluntary service with a presence in all parts of the country and its Witness Service in every criminal court.

Victim Support has welcomed the many important improvements which are being put in place for victims and witnesses whose cases go to court. However, the charity warns that the millions of victims and witnesses whose offenders are not brought to justice are often left to cope alone. These include victims of racist, sexual or domestic crimes who fear reprisals if they go to the police, as well as the majority of victims whose crimes are never solved. For these people, improvements in the criminal justice system are of no benefit, leaving them dependent on charities such as Victim Support.

Currently Victim Support, the major national provider of services to victims and witnesses, receives £30 million a year from the Government to help fund its services - which represents just £1 for every £500 of public money spent on the criminal justice system. The charity also raises around £9 million a year through fundraising, and continues to work to push this figure higher.

Victim Support has almost 12,000 trained volunteers and 1,000 staff to deliver its services. But, many more volunteers and extra funds are urgently needed just to keep pace with dramatically increasing demands. In addition, the charity would like to reach far more victims of unreported crime to offer the services that many so desperately need. New funds need to be found to provide additional specialist services which have been developed by the charity. These include:

"The Government deserves to be congratulated for its work in ensuring that victims and witnesses will receive better treatment in the criminal justice system. We lobbied for this to happen and it is a very positive result in our short history," said Dame Helen Reeves DBE, Chief Executive of Victim Support. "But society as whole, including the media, local government and the public services, now need to change their agendas and recognise that the effects of crime, if neglected, can do untold damage to individuals, families and to entire communities. Victim Support has achieved a great deal. But with more support we could improve the lives of many of those who now struggle to cope with the devastating effects of crime alone."

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Victim Support's response to 'No witness, no justice' project

The national charity, Victim Support, welcomes the 'No witness, no justice' project, which will now be extended to all 42 criminal justice areas in England and Wales, following pilots in Essex, Gwent, North Wales, South Yorkshire and West Midlands.

Under the new joint Crown Prosecution Service/police initiative, witnesses to crime will be assessed according to their needs and, through a witness care unit, offered a single point of contact for information and access to support.

The Chief Executive of Victim Support, Dame Helen Reeves DBE, says:"We're very encouraged to hear that witnesses will be able to call one number for information about their case. We've long called for this type of service, because witnesses must be treated with respect, provided with accurate information and not kept in the dark.

"We know from the pilots that this kind of service will increase the number of people referred to our Witness Service for support and practical help, and bring them to us earlier. This is very good news indeed, but there is a major pitfall that needs to be addressed. Extra referrals will mean extra work for our trained staff and volunteers at a time when the Home Office has effectively frozen our funding. Without extra resources, it will become difficult to deal with the extra referrals from the witness care units and that may result in some people missing out on the help to which we believe they are entitled. It will also damage witnesses' expectations and affect confidence in the criminal justice system, which is not a good thing, as we know the government agrees."

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Victim Support's response to death of Harold Shipman

The relatives and friends of Harold Shipman's victims have today been speaking to their local branch of Victim Support about their feelings at the news of his death. The manager of Victim Support and Witness Service Tameside, Helen Ogborn MBE, and her team of staff and volunteers supported hundreds of family members and friends before, during and after the Shipman murders and trial.

Helen Ogborn says; "Harold Shipman didn't serve his full time in prison and now, the families and friends will never get the full information they needed about their loved ones. As a result, many people say they feel cheated and there's also a sense of relief, but many feel guilty at feeling relief at the news.

"Victim Support is committed to providing support and practical help to everyone affected directly and indirectly by his terrible crimes, which had a devastating effect on this community. If they need support, I would urge them to call Victim Support Tameside or the national telephone service, Victim Supportline on 0845 30 30 900."

For further information, please contact:
Helen Ogborn, Tameside Victim Support and Witness Service, telephone 0161 339 1190, or Andrew Buckingham, Media & PR Officer, 020 7896 3750; mobile 07736 211148; andrew.buckingham@victimsupport.org.uk.

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Victim Support's response to Audit Commission report Victims and witnesses: providing better support (2 December 2019)

Commenting on the publication of the Audit Commission report Victims and witnesses: providing better support today, Chief Executive of Victim Support Dame Helen Reeves DBE said:

"While we welcome the Audit Commission investigation, we are disappointed that their report has failed to recognise that meeting the needs of victims and witnesses is an important and worthwhile objective in itself.

"The report gives examples of victims and witnesses feeling alienated by the criminal justice system, but the Commission appears to say that the principle reason for treating victims and witnesses better is to try to secure more convictions. While an effective prosecution system is important to many victims, this approach is indicative of seeing victims and witnesses purely as a means to an end within the criminal justice system, rather than citizens who need and deserve support in their own right.

"We were also not surprised to find that the Audit Commission identified widespread shortcomings across the criminal justice system in helping victims and witnesses. The Government has announced its intention to make improvements, but there is a considerable gap between the intention and the current reality.

"Better co-ordination and more dedicated resources are essential. But so is a complete culture change both inside and outside the limited reach of criminal justice."

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Victim Support's response to Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill (2 December 2019)

The national charity Victim Support welcomes many of the measures for victims of crime, which have been set out in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill, which is published today (2 December 2019).

It is our belief that the safety of victims of domestic violence is of paramount importance. Safety planning needs to be the first consideration of any agency that comes into contact with the victim, or takes actions or makes decisions which affect them.

We support the proposal to allow courts to impose a restraining order if a victim is in need of protection. At present, even if a case goes through the criminal courts, no consideration is given to the victim's safety at the end of the process. The current distinction between civil and criminal cases is very confusing for victims and can leave them in danger.

In addition, Victim Support welcomes the suggestion of creating a register of civil orders. The Crown Prosecution Service and the police are currently hampered by having insufficient information available to enable them to deal appropriately when called to an incident, or when considering whether to charge, oppose bail or prosecute.

We are very pleased that the Government is proposing to create both a Commissioner for victims and a statutory code to put rights for victims of crime on a statutory footing. Victim Support has been calling for these proposals for some time.

To be effective, Victim Support believes that the Commissioner should have the power to require all government departments (including those responsible for health and housing, for example) to have pro-victim and witness policies and procedures, and for the Code to be expanded over time to reflect this.

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Victim Support's response to the Queen's Speech (26 November 2019)

Victim Support welcomes the measures for victims and witnesses announced in the Queen's Speech today. In particular:

The Commissioner

We welcome the creation of a post of Commissioner to speak up for the interests of victims and witnesses of crime. In order to be as effective as possible, we believe the Commissioner should:

Domestic violence

We welcome the introduction of measures to modernise the laws on domestic violence. We hope that this will result in a more joined-up response by the criminal justice and civil systems so that victims of domestic violence will have more protection before, during and after the court process. Victim Support considers that the safety of the victim of domestic violence is of paramount importance. Victim safety planning should be the first consideration of any agency that comes into contact with domestic violence victims, or takes action or makes decisions that affect them. The victim must also be fully involved in safety planning.

Statutory rights

We are surprised that there was no reference in the Queen's Speech to the introduction of statutory rights for victims of crime which were promised in the Government's recently published strategy, A new deal for victims and witnesses. Victim Support has long campaigned for statutory rights for victims of crime and we hope that this remains on the legislative agenda, despite not being highlighted today.

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Criminal injuries compensation system re-victimises says Victim Support (25 November 2019)

People who should be eligible for state compensation as victims of violent crimes are missing out as a result of unfair rules, according to a report published today (25 November 2019) by the charity Victim Support. The report, Insult to injury, details three ways in which the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) discriminates against certain groups of victims - namely some victims of sexual crimes, people on means-tested benefits, and people abused before October 1979 by someone living in the family home.

The charity believes these compensation rules are unjustifiable and turn a system that is meant to acknowledge the pain and suffering people have been through into one that re-victimises them. The Government is being urged to tackle the problems in its forthcoming review of the CICS.

The three main problems highlighted in the report are that:

Insult to injury raises other concerns, such as the fact that children who lose a parent through violent crime may be denied compensation if the parent had a criminal record. And loss-of-earnings rules on compensation treat the self-employed and those on temporary contracts unfairly.

"The Government has said that it intends to carry out a review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme," said Dame Helen Reeves DBE, Chief Executive of Victim Support. "We urge them to use this opportunity to remedy these unethical and frankly indefensible anomalies in the compensation rules. Otherwise, those who have already suffered from acts of violence will continue to be subject to discrimination at the hands of the very system that is meant to demonstrate society's concern for them. For those who fall foul of the rules, the current system is nothing short of re-victimisation."

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MPs meet 'lifeblood' of Victim Support and hear real impact of crime on national MPs day (14 November 2019)

MPs from across England and Wales will today (Friday 14 November 2019) meet staff and volunteers at local branches of Victim Support to find out how the national charity helps people cope with the effects of crime.

During the 'MPs Day' event, staff and volunteers will talk about their involvement with Victim Support, and explain how they provide support, information and practical help to people affected by crime, including burglary, domestic violence, sexual assault, and murder.

Nationally, the charity offers its service to more than 1.75 million people every year through local branches, the Witness Service (based in every criminal court in England and Wales) and the telephone service, Victim Supportline.

The event, which has been promoted to MPs by Graham Allen, who represents Nottingham North, has attracted messages of support from the Home Secretary and his Conservative and Liberal Democrat colleagues. The Rt. Hon. David Blunkett MP said; "The Government appreciates the work of the staff and volunteers at Victim Support, who provide a valuable service for victims and witnesses. The Victim Support 'MPs Day' offers an opportunity for Members of Parliament to meet representatives from their local branches to find out more about their work. I fully support this day and encourage all MPs to participate."

The Conservative MP, Dominic Grieve, welcomed the event and paid tribute to Victim Support's "excellent service", while Liberal Democrat MP, Simon Hughes, commented that the charity's services provide "immense help" to those affected by crime.

Dame Helen Reeves DBE, Chief Executive of Victim Support, says; "Ever since Victim Support began life almost thirty years ago, its staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide an excellent service to people in their local communities. Our thousands of volunteers are the lifeblood of the organisation, and I am very encouraged that so many MPs have accepted the invitations to thank everyone personally for their work to support constituents who have been victims of crime."

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Just the card to help victims of crime (15 September 2019)

100% of the profits raised from Victim Support's 2003 Christmas card range will go to the charity that helps victims of crimes, such as rape and domestic violence.

This year's range of cards incorporates a mix of traditional, contemporary, and humorous designs, offering something for everyone. Prices for packs of ten cards range from £2.50 to £3.95. Wrapping paper is also available at £2.95 for five sheets, with matching tags. To request a free copy of Victim Support's Christmas card catalogue please call 020 7896 3703. Alternatively you can view and buy online at www.victimsupport.org/about/shop.html.

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Victim Support relaunches website (4 August 2019)

On Monday 4 August Victim Support relaunched its website. The site provides information on a wide range of crimes, including hate crime, crime against children, domestic violence and rape. It includes practical information on criminal justice procedures, such as going to court and how to claim for Criminal Injuries Compensation. There is also advice on dealing with the emotional impact of crime, including free leaflets to download.

The site is unique in that it acts as a gateway to around 50 regional Victim Support websites. This means that victims and witnesses can get online information, day or night, from their local community. For more information visit www.victimsupport.org

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Victim Support produces 'essential' guidelines for supporting children and young people affected by crime (23 July 2019)

The national charity, Victim Support, has produced comprehensive new guidelines for supporting young victims of crime to help its affiliated local charities manage the services they provide across England and Wales.

Staff and volunteers from Victim Support have worked closely over a twelve-month period with the main childrens' charities and voluntary organisations, and consulted with the Association of Directors of Social Services to draw up the documents. They include:

Peter Dunn, Head of Research and Development, says; "We can help young people to put their experience of being a victim of crime behind them by improving our ability to offer them the right kind of emotional support, practical help and information."

"There are very few community resources and services for helping young victims of crime, so Victim Support decided to bridge the gap by producing these essential resources for our members. We're very pleased with the work and in particular, the Young people's support pack, because we believe it's the first time that anyone has attempted to design a tool for assessing the needs of young victims."

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Victim Support's response to publication of the Government's strategy for victims and witnesses
(22 July 2019)

Victim Support welcomes the Government's strategy for victims and witnesses published today. Many of the developments it proposes are things that we have long campaigned for or reflect our original ideas. We consider the degree to which we have influenced the rights agenda for victims and witnesses to be a great success for a charity.

Things we particularly welcome in the strategy include:

The proposed move to localised funding for services to witnesses (and in due course victims) through the local Criminal Justice Boards will be a major change and will present challenges. Although many of the details still need to be ironed-out, we are committed to working closely with the Government during the piloting of this new approach. Our aim is to maintain the high standards of service that we have developed for the Witness Service so that witnesses continue to receive the level of support we believe they deserve. We will also continue to press for adequate resources, across the board, for witness and victim services.

Commenting on publication of the strategy, Dame Helen Reeves DBE, Chief Executive of Victim Support, said; "We are delighted to see so many of our proposals for victim and witness rights and services adopted in the Government's new strategy. This is a time of great change for victims and witnesses, and indeed our charity. We remain committed to our core aims for meeting the needs of victims and witnesses, and to continue working closely with the Government to ensure that services and rights for victims and witnesses continue to grow, develop and improve."

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International conference receives royal visitor (14 July 2019)

Victim Support's President HRH The Princess Royal will be speaking at the New Horizons in Victimology conference in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, this week. The conference, which runs from 13 - 18 July, is an annual event which brings together organisations and individuals from around the world who specialise in supporting victims of crime. The Princess Royal will be representing Victim Support as one of the world leaders in working with victims of crime.

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Emergency care for victims of crime and services 'down under' on agenda at Victim Support National Conference (23 June 2019)

Hundreds of members of the national charity, Victim Support, will discuss the benefits of sharing their skills and expertise with other agencies when they meet at the organisation's annual National Conference next month.

The guest speakers are drawn from victims' services, healthcare and law, and will talk about 'working in partnership' as a means of providing an effective response for victims of crime. The Director of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, Peter Saunders, will be joined at the opening session by Dr Rupert Evans from the University Hospital of Wales, and Barbara Esam, from the NSPCC's Public Policy unit. Michael Dawson, who heads Victim Support Services Inc in South Australia, will close the conference with a presentation about the work of his organisation.

During the three-day event at the University of Warwick in Coventry, Victim Support's members will attend seminars and workshops on topics including domestic violence, supporting young victims of crime, criminal injuries compensation and working with the media.

The Chair of Victim Support, Terry Mansfield CBE, will open the conference on Tuesday 1 July and the charity's Chief Executive, Dame Helen Reeves DBE, will chair the closing session on Thursday 3 July, following Michael Dawson's presentation.

Terry Mansfield CBE said; "I am delighted to be attending my first Victim Support National Conference since I took over as Chair of the Board of Trustees six months ago. Working in partnership is a key theme for Victim Support's work, so we know that making the most of this golden opportunity to network and exchange information is key for so many delegates."

Dame Helen said; "With volunteers' time stretched to the limit, it is vital that we work with all the other organisations which can provide help to victims of crime. We can all learn from each other and from the experiences of victim services in other countries. By working together, we have far more chance of bringing about the changes which victims so desperately need."

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Victim Support statement on Safety and justice: the government's proposals on domestic violence
(23 June 2019)

The national charity, Victim Support, welcomes the measures put forward in Safety and justice: the government's proposals on domestic violence to help victims of domestic violence, and the emphasis that it places on the safety of victims and the commitment to provide support for those affected by the crime.

Victim Support agrees that there is a need to look beyond the criminal justice process - to issues concerning education, housing and health, and to consider the way in which all agencies respond to people affected by domestic violence. It is vital that all agencies are fully aware of the risks and difficulties faced by victims, their children and their extended families. The government should focus on effective inter-agency working and communication to help break the cycle of domestic violence. It should also ensure that individuals in all agencies are properly trained to understand the true nature of domestic violence, so that victims are treated in a holistic way and given appropriate support and information.

In particular, Victim Support welcomes the strategy emphasising the need for protection of victims. We would hope that this will be enhanced by the proposal that common law assault be made an arrestable offence, and that there should be stronger legal protection in relation to the use of restraining and non-molestation orders. Better co-ordination is needed between the criminal and civil courts to allow victims an easy route to obtain the protection of injunctions where the criminal process is underway or has been concluded.

A register of civil orders is another welcome development that, in our view, would be more useful than a register of offenders. Additional funding for services is a clear priority.

Victim Support continues to provide support for victims in three ways: through its local member charities across the UK; through its criminal court-based Witness Service; and through its national helpline, the Victim Supportline (0845 30 30 900). Last year, we offered our services to 59,392 victims of domestic violence via our local branches; and the Victim Supportline received 1,965 calls from people affected by domestic violence.

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Victim Support's response to report of the Public Accounts Committee (8 May 2019)

Victim Support welcomes the Public Accounts Committee report for highlighting the fact that there has been no Government strategy for national victim and witness services. This has long been a concern of Victim Support.

Responding to the report, the charity's Chief Executive, Dame Helen Reeves DBE said: "The UK is an acknowledged world leader in quality services for victims and witnesses. We have the most comprehensive provisions in the world and provide the model for other countries which are developing victim and witness services. The reason for this is that Victim Support has developed and implemented its own strategies for helping victims and witnesses. Our policy advice to Government has also been valued and influential - forming the basis of most Government policies and initiatives.

"Victim Support is currently facing hugely increased pressures from government and elsewhere. For example, we are meeting the needs of more people affected by violent crime; we support over 14,000 people a year in the long and complex task of applying to the Government's own Criminal Injuries Compensation scheme with no allocated funding for doing it; and we are expected to do hugely increased work in supporting vulnerable and intimidated witnesses in line with the Government's own special measures for this group.

"Despite this, we have been told by the Home Office that we will receive no additional resources for the next three years and have just received a real-term cut of around 3% in our funding for 2003-2004. This is having an immediate impact on services with a number of local branch closures already announced and the possibility of redundancies in our affiliated charities, which deliver our front-line services. Clearly this will have a very direct impact on the help that victims and witnesses receive.

"The PAC's report recognises that our service level varies from place to place, as did the National Audit Office. We brought this to their attention, as we have done with the Government, precisely because we ourselves know that this is an unacceptable situation. But without more core funding, and greater clarity over what exactly our central Government grant pays for, it is difficult for us to persuade different local authorities to fund our work consistently. Many mistakenly believe that central Government funding covers everything.

"It is vital for the Government to have a strategy and that Victim Support is ensured an appropriate place in that strategy, backed up by the resources that we need to provide the sustained, excellent service that victims and witnesses deserve."

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New survey reveals extent of crime against 12 to 16 year-olds (19 February 2019)

One in four young people aged 12 to 16 has been a victim of crime in the last year, according to new research published today (19 February 2019) by Victim Support to mark Victim Support Week. The survey, commissioned in association with Direct Line Home Insurance, marks the start of a campaign by the charity to introduce nationwide support services for all young people who have been affected by crime.

The research, carried out by NOP on over 400 young people across England and Wales, reveals some worrying trends. It suggests that the level of crime against this age group is consistent over time (similar numbers said the crime was up to three, six or twelve months ago), widespread and that it affects both boys and girls equally. Almost half (42%) of those who have been victims had been subjected to repeat incidents - with some reporting more than five incidents in the past year.

Of those who had been a victim of crime, the most common offences reported include violence and assault (54%), or theft (43% ). Five percent said that it was a sexual offence. Only 2% of victims specifically reported a mobile phone related crime, but many more who simply said that they had been a victim of theft or robbery could have been the victim of phone theft.

The survey also focused on how young people were affected by being a victim and where they went to get help, support and information. Almost two thirds (61%) said that they felt angry after the crime. Four out of ten (41%) said that they felt upset, a third (30%) shocked and one in five reported feeling frightened or worried (22% and 19%).

On a more positive note, the majority of the young people surveyed said that if they had been a victim, or were to become one, they would tell someone rather than suffering in silence - just 6% had told no one that a crime had happened. Of those who had already been a victim, 71% had told a parent or guardian, and 52% a friend. Four out of ten had told the police (40%) and around a third (29%) had told a teacher. But few had received specialist help from Victim Support or similar agencies, with just three out of the total sample group (less than 1%) having spoken to a professional support worker.

However, having heard more about Victim Support, an overwhelming 85% of all the young people surveyed said that they would find this kind of support helpful. Specifically they said that they would appreciate help in coping with their feelings after a crime (64%), advice or information (50%) or someone to speak to in confidence (49%). A quarter of the group (25%) said that they would like help dealing with schools, the police and other officials and a similar number (24%) wanted help in explaining the crime to parents. Yet according to the survey, six out of ten (60%) had never heard of Victim Support. This is in stark contrast to awareness of Victim Support among adults - according to the British Crime Survey [1] three quarters of the adult population (74%) are aware of the charity.

Commenting on the findings, Dame Helen Reeves DBE, Chief Executive of Victim Support said, "It is clear that young people are more likely to suffer crime than adults and that their needs are being neglected. Even when they do go to the police it seems that they are not being referred for help. This can affect their attitudes to other people for the rest of their lives. It is vital that we act now to prevent any further neglect."

"This survey highlights the extent to which crime is now affecting young people and strengthens our case for extending our work to offer specialist help for this age group," added Peter Dunn, Head of Research and Development at Victim Support. "We are in the middle of developing pilot projects specifically aimed at young people. But we need government and public support to roll-out these services nationally. We also need to make sure that young people know that there are confidential and independent sources of help if they should become a crime victim."

Gill Murphy, spokesperson for Direct Line (who sponsored the research) commented, "It is worrying to see the extent to which young people are subjected to often serious and disturbing crimes. We're delighted to be working with Victim Support to raise awareness of this problem and to highlight the impact of crime on young people and their families."

The charity plans to launch a number of pilot schemes for young victims around the country later this year. Last year Victim Support's Witness Service helped almost 23,000 young people under 18 attending court as witnesses.

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Victim Support publishes report on support after Shipman (22 November 2019)

A new report released today by the national charity for victims of crime, Victim Support, explains how the organisation worked behind the scenes to support the families of Harold Shipman's victims.

Support after Shipman: the role of Victim Support and the Witness Service gives an insight into the practical problems that charities face in responding to sudden and tragic events on this scale, as well as giving valuable lessons for all caring organisations in preparing for the unexpected.

The report will be unveiled today at a press conference held by Victim Support Tameside and Preston Crown Court Witness Service at 11.00am at The Village Hotel in Hyde. Speakers including James Purnell, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, and the report's author, Lyn Brown, will outline the main findings.

It explains how Victim Support and Witness Service colleagues worked together to support the victims' families and friends before, during and after the trial; and looks at the work of other agencies, including the coroner's court and the police; and the relationship between the media, the families and the Witness Service.

Victim Support in Tameside has now offered its services to more than 700 people connected with the Shipman case. Preston Crown Court Witness Service (also run by Victim Support) provided support and practical information to 300 witnesses, and arranged pre-trial courtroom visits for most of the families to help them cope with the trauma of giving evidence.

Lisa Westoby, co-ordinator of Preston Crown Court Witness Service, said; "Shipman had a devastating effect on thousands of people and although the trial is over, the misery that he caused will be felt for many years. I'm very grateful to my colleagues in the Witness Service and Victim Support Tameside, as well as the coroner's office and the police, for their help. We've had very encouraging feedback from the families, and I'm pleased that we could help them through a very traumatic time."

Copies of the report priced at £7.00, are available from the Resources Administrator, Victim Support National Office, Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London, SW9 6DZ.

Note:

Support after Shipman: the role of Victim Support and the Witness Service was researched and written by Lyn Brown, Department of Primary Care, Community Studies Unit, University of Liverpool.

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Victim Support's response to the National Audit Office report (October 2002)

Victim Support welcomes the publication of the National Audit Office's (NAO's) new report into our services, the way we run them, and our relationship with the Home Office. We are acutely aware of the fact that we receive substantial public funding, for the benefit of local communities, and were happy to be independently reviewed both in the name of public interest and to help us to ensure that we are being as efficient and effective as possible.

We are particularly pleased that the NAO has acknowledged so many of the successes and positive benefits of Victim Support. Our volunteers will undoubtedly be delighted to hear the NAO's description of their "dedication and professionalism" and our "notable achievement for the voluntary charitable movement", for which our volunteers must take much of the credit. We recognise some of the issues that have been raised too. And because we share the NAO's concerns about areas such as reaching out to victims of unreported crimes, and monitoring local performance, we are already working to try to resolve some of the problems.

The major restructuring we are just in the process of completing has simplified the organisation and left us with around 50 'Area' member charities rather than over 400 as we had just a few years ago. This reorganisation is already bringing us significant benefits and will, along with the setting up of our new Quality and Standards Department, go a very long way to improving both monitoring and standardisation of our services.

We share the NAO's concerns about the difficulties of recruiting volunteers. This is a difficult task for most charities. Despite the apparent fall in numbers in recent years, we should recognise the huge success we had in recruiting new people during the massive expansion of the Witness Service. We are confident that the move to Area charities will bring a more co-ordinated approach to volunteer recruitment.

We are also pleased that the NAO have recognised some of the problems presented by the late announcement of our grant by the Home Office. For many years this has considerably hindered our planning processes. It is very helpful to have these difficulties independently confirmed and highlighted.

We look forward to further discussing all the issues raised in the report not only with the Home Office but with the other agencies with which we work so closely, and to finding new solutions and approaches to improving our core task of helping people cope with crime.

Note:

Copies of Helping victims and witnesses: the work of Victim Support [pdf copy] are available from the date of publication on the NAO website at www.nao.gov.uk. Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.

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New rights for holiday victims of crime (June 2002)

Britons holidaying abroad in Europe this summer should benefit from improved help and support if they become a victim of crime, thanks to new EU policies, according to a report published today (26 June 2019) by Victim Support. But the report warns that as well as bringing benefits for those travelling abroad, our own services for victims of crime, including visitors from overseas, need improvement to meet the new EU-wide standards.

The report, New rights for victims of crime in Europe, has been produced jointly by Victim Support national charities across the UK and Ireland to highlight the impact of the little-publicised EU Council Framework Decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings, which came into effect in March this year. Victim Support played a significant role in lobbying the EU to introduce the Framework and in advising on its development.

The Framework aims to standardise services for victims of crime, both residents and overseas visitors, which currently vary greatly across the EU. It gives the one in four EU citizens who become a victim of crime each year rights to:

All EU states should, by now, have minimum standards of assistance in place. For victims this should mean being treated with respect by officials, having the right to play a part in any criminal proceedings, and being given information about what support and access to justice is available.

Although most provisions within the Framework came into effect this year, some will be phased-in more gradually. For example, rights to assistance with communication difficulties and access to free legal advice do not come into effect until 2004, and measures on mediation until 2006. According to the report, however, many countries in the EU will need to do considerable development work just to ensure that they meet the requirements already in place.

The report highlights, through real-life examples, the wide range of problems in the various criminal justice and victim support systems throughout Europe. In the case of the UK and Ireland, despite some of the most advanced services for victims in Europe, victims who are not witnesses currently miss out on many benefits as the law does not deem them to be 'civil parties' in legal proceedings, as is the case elsewhere in the EU.

On the positive side, the report gives examples of state-of-the-art help for victims, such as Victim Support Ireland's support service for tourists. This helps visitors to the country who become victims of crime with, among other things, language difficulties, replacement of stolen items and travel and accommodation problems.

"Becoming a victim of crime is a bad experience at any time. But to have it happen miles from home in a country where you do not know the law or the language can be devastating," said Dame Helen Reeves DBE, Chief Executive of Victim Support. "Victim Support organisations throughout Europe have always worked closely together to try to ensure a joined-up service for people who fall victim to crime abroad. Now we need the support of all governments in Europe to help us make this happen."

The report is introduced by the President of the European Parliament, Mr Pat Cox, who makes clear his support not only for the Framework itself, but also the role of the Victim Support report in spelling-out its implications; "I hope that this will provide the basis for establishing support services to victims of crime in each of the accession countries over the coming years".

Notes

New rights for victims of crime in Europe is published jointly by the national Victim Support organisations for the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, and England Wales and Northern Ireland. Copies are available from all the organisations. For England, Wales and Northern Ireland, contact Victim Support, Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London, SW9 6DZ. Copies can also be downloaded from www.victimsupport.org

The full text of the EU Council Framework Decision on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings (European Union Council of Ministers 2001/220/JHA) can be viewed and downloaded from the European Union On-line website (http://europa.eu.int).

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