Many people think of Victim Support as a long-established part of the criminal justice establishment. But in truth Victim Support - both the organisation and the concept - are just 30 years old. 2004 marks the 30th anniversary of the setting up of the very first Victim Support scheme in Bristol. Before then, there was barely any recognition of the needs of victims of crime, let alone any dedicated services.
In just 30 years, one small community project has developed into a national network covering every part of the UK. And it has inspired the setting up and growth of similar organisations worldwide.
Victim Support now has around 1,000 staff and an amazing 12,000 volunteers. Approximately 1.7 million people, both victims and witnesses, are offered help every year - and all for, in government terms, the small amount of £30 million of public money, backed up by a further £9m in fundraising across all our affiliated member charities. Setting up a national service for victims and witnesses has been a huge achievement. But equally dramatic has been the change in attitudes and understanding that the organisation has brought about. In the early years the organisation was a lone voice - few others understood the needs of victims, or recognised the need for support. Now, 30 years on, the rights and needs of both groups are clearly high on the social and political agendas.
The story so far has been one of unmatched success and major achievements in work with victims. But much more remains to be done, both in service provision and in furthering understanding and recognition. This report takes stock of where Victim Support has come in its short history. But more importantly it focuses attention on the problems that still remain to be addressed if the needs of all victims and witnesses are to be met as we believe they should be.