News from Victim Support Magazine (November 2000)

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REPORT SHOWS GROWTH IN LONG TERM CONTACT
VICTIM SUPPORT WINS BID FOR YOUTH JUSTICE TRAINING
SURVEY UNDERLINES CHILD WITNESS ROLE
CRIME FALLS BUT YOUNG MALES STILL AT RISK FROM VIOLENCE
CONFERENCE MPS ADDRESS VICTIM ISSUES
SYMPOSIUM SURPRISE FOR VICTIM SUPPORT
IT VOLUNTEER DAY AT NATIONAL OFFICE
BBC APPEAL FUNDS WITNESS WORKER
PRE-TRIAL GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE

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REPORT SHOWS GROWTH IN LONG TERM CONTACT

New statistics show that almost a third of the victims referred to Victim Support are in contact with the organisation for more than a month, with one in five victims receiving continuing help for three months or more.

The figures, in this year’s Victim Support Annual Report, underline the growing need for long term help for victims, particularly of violent crime, for which referrals increased by 20 per cent during 1999/2000; referrals relating to racist crime also increased by 105 per cent to 10,828 cases.

A total of 1,268,723 people affected by crime were offered help by Schemes, Witness Services and the Victim Supportline during 1999/2000, with the overall number of victims receiving personal contact rising by 20,129, to 352,207.

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VICTIM SUPPORT WINS BID FOR YOUTH JUSTICE TRAINING

Victim Support is to be at the forefront of training for staff from Youth Offending Teams after winning a training contract from the Youth Justice Board.

Victim Support, along with consortium partners Mediation UK and Thames Valley Police, won the contract to provide training for 500 Youth Offending Team staff nationwide.

The first courses are due to start in November, and will continue through to March: NAVSS Head of Policy, Teresa Reynolds, said winning the contract was a tremendous achievement. “It really is a tremendous coup for us; we have been trying to get the Youth Justice Board to recognise the need for this type of training for years,” said Teresa.

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SURVEY UNDERLINES CHILD WITNESS ROLE

Thirty per cent of Crown Court Witness Services are the sole agency responsible for preparing child witnesses in court, according to a new survey.

The role played by staff and volunteers was revealed in the Child Witness Survey 2000, based on a questionnaire completed by all 83 Crown Court Witness Services across the country.

Twenty-five CCWS described themselves as the only agency working with youngsters in their particular courts; 46 CCWS said they worked alongside a number of other agencies in the provision of services for youngsters. However, neither the NSPCC nor social services were found to be taking sole responsibility for preparing young witnesses in any of the Crown Courts.

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CRIME FALLS BUT YOUNG MALES STILL AT RISK FROM VIOLENCE

Young males have a 20 per cent chance of becoming a victim of violence, according to the latest figures from the British Crime Survey.

While the 2000 BCS findings, which relate to crimes which took place during 1999, confirm a continuing downward trend for overall crime of 10 per cent, specific areas of violent crime underlined the chances of 16 to 24-year-old men becoming victims.

While the overall trends in violence demonstrated a fall of around four per cent between 1997 and 1999, the number of violent crimes last year was still 50 per cent higher than in 1981.

The BCS survey also revealed a 14 per cent rise in robbery and a four per cent rise in theft from the person, although neither of these increases was described as statistically significant. The increase in robbery was influenced by a marked rise in incidents against 16-year-olds.

Other decreases in crimes included burglary dropping by 21 per cent, thefts of personal property falling by 21 per cent, and vehicle related thefts down by 15 per cent.

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CONFERENCE MPS ADDRESS VICTIM ISSUES

More than 100 delegates attended Victim Support’s three fringe meetings held at the party political conferences this autumn, with the theme for each meeting being The Human Rights Act – will it benefit victims and witnesses?

Speakers from Victim Support National Office included Chief Executive Dame Helen Reeves, Anne Viney, Head of Research and Development, and Policy Officer Debora Singer; they explained the rights which the new Act could provide for victims and witnesses.

Invited speakers at the VS fringe meetings included the Liberal Democrat’s chief spokesperson on Home Affairs, Simon Hughes MP; Home Office Minister Charles Clark MP; and Nick Hawkins MP, a member of the shadow Home Affairs team.

All invited speakers were presented with copies of Helping people cope with crime: Victim Support handbook.

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SYMPOSIUM SURPRISE FOR VICTIM SUPPORT

The importance of legislation to protect vulnerable witnesses, and the need to ensure legislation is properly implemented, were the main themes of a speech by Victim Support Chief Executive Dame Helen Reeves at the 10th International Symposium on Victimology.

The symposium was also the venue for a unique presentation to Victim Support, when the American National Organisation for Victim Assistance announced that its annual award for services to victims should go to Victim Support – the first time the award has been presented to an organisation from another nation.

Dame Helen said she was delighted by NOVA’s decision to present its annual award to Victim Support. “It is a great compliment and an acknowledgement of the achievements of our volunteers.”

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IT VOLUNTEER DAY AT NATIONAL OFFICE

Best practice and sharing solutions were among the items for discussion as volunteers from across the country met for the first IT Volunteer Team day at the National Office recently.

The event, organised by Eva Dupak, enabled volunteers to swap knowledge and start networking, as well as addressing some of the pressing issues confronting the IT teams.

During open discussion members of the team identified major issues affecting them, including the need for training to professional standards, recognition of the different role for volunteers, support and supervision, and recruiting nationwide to provide local IT support.

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BBC APPEAL FUNDS WITNESS WORKER

The BBC Children in Need Appeal has awarded a grant of £121,719 to help Victim Support improve the services available for child witnesses.

The money will be paid in three installments, and will go towards the cost of a specialist Child Witness Service manager to develop a national child witness preparation service.

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PRE-TRIAL GOOD PRACTICE GUIDE

Victim Support National Office is currently considering draft good practice guidelines for pre-trial therapy for vulnerable and intimidated witnesses which have been drawn up by the Home Office.

A draft paper was presented to National Council in June, looking at a number of areas including important pre-trial assessment issues, assessment of the need for therapy and the legal consequences of pre-trial therapy.

The guidelines are part of the implementation programme for the Speaking up for justice report, and deal with the needs of adult witnesses who are considered to be vulnerable or intimated, drawing on the existing provision for child witnesses.

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