Victim Support today
Victim Support at 30 is a major national organization with an annual income nationwide of around £40m. The National Association provides support as well as direct services such as the Victim Supportline, and maintains standards across the 400 community-based services and 480 court-based services that make up Victim Support nationwide. Some of the member charities are large organisations in their own right, such as Greater Manchester, with over 100 staff, 700 volunteers and an annual turnover of well over £2.5 million.
Victim Support is the major national charity running services exclusively for victims and witnesses and campaigning on their behalf. We are in contact with more victims and witnesses than any other voluntary agency - currently around 1.7 million a year. This gives us a unique and valuable insight into their needs.
Thanks to our partnerships with criminal justice and other voluntary agencies, we are well placed to provide integrated services to victims and witnesses. For example, we handle over 1.4 million victim referrals from police every year. The Victim Supportline takes 19,000 calls and the Witness Service, present in every criminal court, looks after 330,000 witnesses.
Victim Support is pioneering services for victims and witnesses across the country. Recently we introduced new specifications for helping young victims of crime. Other new projects range from piloting services for victims of road incidents and enhanced guidelines for domestic violence, through to liaison with police to improve reporting of hate crimes.
The charity has also been very successful in influencing government policy towards victims and witnesses. We played a very significant role in the introduction of the Victim's charter in 1990. All the proposals in our 1995 criminal justice report have now been adopted. And our Criminal neglect report in 2002 was shortly followed by the Home Office adopting its call for government departments outside criminal justice to recognise and support victims and witnesses. Most recently we have worked closely with the Government in developing the new Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill which will, among other things, lead to the introduction of a Commissioner for Victims, something we have long called for.
Since 1987 Victim Support has received a core annual grant from the Home Office to support its work. This income has grown steadily, most notably to fund the introduction of a national Witness Service, following Victim Support's successful piloting of the service with our own charitable funds. However, government funding is now levelling out while demand for our services continues to grow. This presents Victim Support with challenges - but more seriously the level of help available to victims and witnesses is likely to be seriously reduced, from levels which are already inadequate.
In 2002 the National Audit Office found that most victims were satisfied with the help we offered them and said that the organisation "represents a notable achievement for the voluntary charitable movement."