Victim Support

Victim Support

Victim Support is a charity in England and Wales which aims to help victims and witnesses of crime by raising awareness of their needs and by delivering dedicated services to them. It was established in 1974. It is a national charity with branches in every community and each criminal court in England and Wales. In 2004-2005 it offered help to around 1.3 million victims and almost 400,000 witnesses. Victim Support delivers three services. In the community Victim Support branches help people in the aftermath of crime by talking over how they are feeling and by providing practical help, such as applying for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. In the criminal courts Victim Support provides the Witness Service which offers emotional and practical support to all victims, defence and prosecution witnesses, and their family and friends. It also provides Victim Supportline (0845 30 30 900), which is a telephone helpline for victims, witnesses and family and friends of victims and witnesses. Its services are delivered by specially selected and trained volunteers, of which there are around 9,500 in England and Wales.

The charity receives funding from the Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom), and also relies on raising money through corporate and individual donations. Its national office is in Kennington, London. Its Chief Executive is Gillian Guy.

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.

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