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Our history


If you were a victim of crime before the 1950s, you would have had very little to do with the criminal justice system, other than as a witness. Also, you would not have had any personal rights or any guarantee of support.

In the 1950s, Margery Fry, a social reformer, set the scene for what was to come. She ran a personal campaign to highlight what it was like to be a victim of crime and to demand compensation for victims. But, although she and a small group of reformers persuaded the government to set up the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme in 1964, she was promoting the rights of a group of people about whom very little was known and in whom there was little interest.

Then in 1972 members of the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) in the Bristol area set up the first Victim Support project. They set out to find out what victims needed and they discovered that they faced significant emotional, practical and financial problems, but that no statutory agency was taking responsibility for helping them.

Two years later, the first Victim Support group was set up in Bristol. Other groups were soon set up around the UK.

Our history

1974 The first Victim Support Scheme is set up in Bristol.
1978 30 similar Schemes are set up in England and Wales.
1979 The National Association of Victims Support Schemes (now known as Victim Support) registers as a charity. Funding comes from private trusts and the Home Office's Voluntary Services Unit.
1980 Victim Support's first paid national member of staff and part-time secretary take up their posts. The National Office is established in Brixton, London and the first national newsletter is published.
1981 Victim Support has 67 member Schemes and that year the police refer 18,000 victims to us. We establish a Code of practice to make sure that our services are consistent and appropriate, and that every Scheme has a local management committee. We hold our first national conference.
1984 Parliament recognises our work as we mark Victim Support's 10th anniversary. The All Party Penal Affairs Group publishes A new deal for victims, and the Home Affairs Committee publishes Compensation and support for victims of crime.
1986 We now have at least one Victim Support Scheme in every county in England and Wales. A national committee is set up to develop a service in Northern Ireland.
1987 We start to get core funding from the Home Office and we register as a charitable company limited by guarantee.
1988 The Home Office publishes a new information leaflet to be given by police to all victims reporting a crime. It gives information on compensation, Victim Support and crime prevention. A second leaflet gives information to victims and witnesses going to court.
1989 The European Forum for Victim Services is established, with 22 February designated as European Victims' Day.
1990 Following our publication of The victim in court working party report, a report on the difficulties of victims and witnesses attending court, we launch the victim/witness in court project. The Victim's charter is published by the government.
1991 The Home Office agrees to fund the Crown Court Witness Service
1994 We now offer help to one million people a year. The Crown Court Witness Service is launched. The 20th anniversary of the first Victim Support branch in Bristol is marked by the introduction of our new sun and clouds logo and the launch of the first Victim Support Week in February.
1995 We launch a campaign promoting victims' rights within the criminal justice system.
1996 We now have a Witness Service in every Crown Court centre in England and Wales.
1998 The telephone Victim Supportline is launched to increase access to Victim Support services.
1999 We mark 25 years of helping people affected by crime and gain Home Office funding to establish the Witness Service in all 550 magistrates' courts in England and Wales.
2002 We publish a major new report called Criminal neglect. This is to mark the beginning of a campaign to encourage policy makers across all areas of government and social provision to recognise and provide for the needs of the victims of crime.
2003 We now have a Witness Service in every criminal court in England and Wales.

© Victim Support
Page printed: 16 October 2019

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