National Office strategic plan 2005-2008 - Introduction

Victim Support is the national organisation for crime victims, witnesses, their families and friends. Through our federation of local charities, we provide services and promote the rights of people affected by crime. We offer a range of services, whether or not a crime has been reported. These are delivered locally by staff and volunteers who are trained to help people cope with the effects of crime. We are an independent voluntary organisation working alongside the criminal justice system, government, and other organisations nationally and in local communities.

Victim Support provides information, practical help and emotional support to people who have experienced a crime, and to their families and friends. Our services are based on the principle of community involvement - for many people, the expression of concern by a fellow citizen can be very helpful in repairing the harm done by crime. We try to make sure that our volunteers reflect the diversity of the communities in which they work and that our services are equally accessible to all.

All criminal courts in England and Wales now have a Witness Service, which is an integral part of Victim Support. The Witness Service is also developing in Northern Ireland. Trained staff and volunteers help victims, witnesses and their families and friends at court by familiarising them with the court before the hearing, supporting on the day, giving information about court procedures, and arranging further help after court.

In this strategy statement, most references to Victim Support refer to both our community and court-based services.

Our services to victims and witnesses

We believe that victims and witnesses have the right to the highest standards of service, and that our services must be readily available and accessible in every community. We believe in working closely with other organisations, both statutory and voluntary. We do this so that we can constantly improve our services, and to help victims and witnesses access services from other agencies if they are better placed to meet the need.

We have National standards and the work of local Victim Support charities is monitored and inspected to ensure the standards are met.

The current context

Since Victim Support was established in 1974, we have developed a range of high quality services, and we have built up a range of knowledge and expertise that we have used to campaign for a better deal for victims and witnesses. The Government has responded with legislation, with its own strategy for helping victims and witnesses, and with a Code of practice for England and Wales. The Code of practice will require that certain standards are met by criminal justice agencies in their contact with victims and witnesses. These welcome developments are changing the environment in which Victim Support works, and are reflected in this strategy statement, which will define our vision and our work in this new and changing context.

This strategy statement sets out our vision and aims for the three years 2005 to 2008.

Our vision

For victims and witnesses

By 2008, the needs and rights of victims, witnesses, their families and their friends will be (better) recognised and understood by the Government, statutory agencies and the general public.

They will be recognised not just for their role in the criminal justice process, but more importantly in their own right, whether or not they have reported the crime.

Through this recognition, better provision will be in place to help all people affected by crime cope with their experience.

There will be real choice available for victims and witnesses who want support, and services will be accessible to every member of each community who has service needs as a victim of crime or as a witness.

For Victim Support

By 2008, we shall have re-confirmed our position at the centre of service provision for victims and witnesses, even when we might not always be the service provider directly.

Victim Support will be known and our services will be understood in every community.

We will clearly communicate the way in which we add value to local communities. We will achieve this through a clear statement of our purpose and values, by being known for the professionalism of our services, and through having strong relationships with other providers of quality services.

We shall have established a more diverse and reliable funding base to sustain our work and set in place new, 21st century methods of providing our services.

Our strategy is built on five key themes which reflect our values:

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