National strategy statement 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 gain a service 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 make sure that 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 their own strategy for helping victims and witnesses, and with a Code of practice for England and Wales, which sets out the responsibilities of the statutory agencies and Victim Support in relation to victims of crime. 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.

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