||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (September 2012)|
In 1972 a group of people in Bristol, including some members of the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (now NACRO) along with others from the police and probation service, decided that something needed to be done to help victims. They created the very first Victim Support project to find out more about how victims were affected by crime. As well as learning a lot about the problems victims faced, they realised that there was little or no help on offer.
In 1974, the very first Victim Support group was set up in Bristol. Other groups soon followed around the UK with local people deciding they needed to do something to help victims too. In 1979 all the groups around the country got together to create an ‘umbrella body’ – the National Association of Victims Support Schemes.
In 2007, members of Victim Support from across England and Wales voted at an extraordinary general meeting to create a single national charity to replace the existing federation.
In 2008 all local charities merged to create one national organisation covering England and Wales.
In 2010-2011 it offered help to around 1.5 million victims and almost 268,000 witnesses.
The charity is a founding member of Victim Support Europe which was established in 1990.
To help create a safe and just society in which they work to reduce the effects of crime and harmful behaviour to victims and witnesses.
The charity supports victims and witnesses of crime both emotionally and practically. This can range from something as applying for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, to supporting people to get re-housed or access medical treatment. They help people deal with their feelings and emotions through challenging and traumatic times.
They’re also there to help in every criminal court. The Witness Service supports witnesses to take the stand confidently and to give evidence that helps bring offenders to justice.
The charity’s national homicide service was launched in 2010 and supported over 1,000 newly bereaved people in its first year of operation. It gives intensive help and supports people to cope during one of the most traumatic events life can bring. The support it offers includes emotional and practical help such as making funeral arrangements, trauma counselling and supporting wider family members.
It provides Victim Supportline (0845 30 30 900), which is a telephone helpline for victims, witnesses and family and friends of victims and witnesses.
The charity received funding from the Ministry of Justice, but is now funded from the budget of the local Police and Crime Commissioner and also relies on raising money through corporate and individual donations. Its National Centre is in London.
The rights and needs of victims and witnesses, as distinct from the interests of justice or the rights of the accused have been promoted by the organisation since it was founded.
The rights and needs of victims and witnesses, as distinct from the interests of justice or the rights of the accused have, through the discipline of victimology become ever more identified over the past thirty years. Victim Support argued in its policy report, Rights for Victims of Crime (1995), that the criminal justice process treated victims insensitively and that this produced a negative impact on the victim. This process is known as re-victimisation. The report set out five basic rights for victims: the right to compensation; to provide and receive information about the case; to be respected and treated with dignity; to be free from the burden of making decisions relating to the treatment of the accused; and to be protected.
In 2002 the charity published Criminal neglect: no justice beyond criminal justice, which called for services across healthcare, housing and finance to respond more effectively to victims' and witnesses' needs. In particular, it has argued for a more sensitive approach from healthcare workers, for reform to the compensation system for victims, and also for a more effective means of relocating after a crime.
In July 2011, they published Left in the dark – why victims of crime need to be kept informed. The report highlights the importance of keeping victims informed and updated about their cases. Lack of contact and information can make victims feel uncertain and isolated – which can worsen the distress caused by the crime itself.