Looking to the future
Things are undoubtedly far, far better for victims and witnesses than they were even ten years ago - let alone 30. Going to court may still be an ordeal, but services are there to try to make the process less traumatic. For those who report crimes, the agencies they have to deal with are far more likely to treat them with respect and consideration. Much more is known about the full, wide-ranging and lasting impact that crimes can have, regardless of the type of crime or the type of person affected.
But beyond the criminal justice system, victims still have a wide range of unmet needs. This can include support from health and psychological services, help with housing to get away from the offender, even financial support in the shape of emergency grants for such basics as feeding the children after a street theft. Everyone should be able to get help with their needs after a crime, and not just within the criminal justice system.
Victims of crime - which includes most of us at some point in our lives - are still dependent largely on under-funded charitable organisations. While the statutory agencies of criminal justice can do much to soften the impact of crime, they were not set up as victim services, but to do other jobs. A sea-change in attitudes, backed up by clear, well-resourced action, needs to come about before we can truly say that crime is being dealt with effectively.
Victim Support is proud to say that we do a lot to restore the balance in favour of victims, and we have achieved a great deal in 30 years. But we could do so much more.