Victims of crime must have quick and easy access to support, Victims’ Minister Mike Penning said today (27 August 2015) as he launched a new national information service.
The service will mean, for the first time, that all victims can go to one place for information and advice about what support is available to them, and how to access it.
It forms the latest stage of the government’s commitment to supporting victims: in 2015/16 almost £90 million of funding has been made available, national services are in place for victims of homicide and rape and for witnesses attending court, and support services commissioned by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are meeting the needs of victims and witnesses across England & Wales.
The new Victims’ Information Service (VIS) includes free online and telephone advice which will signpost victims to local services so that they can get the support they need. This could include emotional support, advocacy services and specialist advice for victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse.
Victims’ Minister Mike Penning said:
This government puts the highest emphasis on the needs of victims. It is essential that they have quick and easy access to support.
We take support for victims of crime extremely seriously and the new VIS is a one-stop shop for information, helping people to access the local help commissioned by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC). This new service will help more victims access the services they need to cope and, wherever possible, recover.
The new website provides factual information about what happens after a crime and what help victims can expect, as well as information on Restorative Justice and how victims of crime can go about claiming compensation. There is also a function which allows people to search for the services available in their local area.
The telephone information line is run by the charity Victim Support and directs people towards the most appropriate support available in their area. The helpline can also provide information to people about their entitlements as victims and, where appropriate, provide immediate emotional support to vulnerable people.
Diana Fawcett, Operations Director at Victim Support, said:
Through supporting more than 150,000 victims across England and Wales every year, we know how important it is people affected by crime are signposted to the right kind of help so we welcome the introduction of the VIS.
The service is the latest in a series of government measures to help victims, including:
- In September 2014, we published a new commitment and plans (‘Our Commitment To Victims’) to help victims navigate the criminal justice system, access the information and support they need, protect vulnerable victims and witnesses in court and to guarantee their rights in law.
- Since 2011 at least £4 million per annum has been provided to female Rape Support Centres in England and Wales, including funding to create 15 new centres created through the Rape Support Fund.
- Democratically-elected PPCs commission a range of victims’ services in their local area, including emotional and practical support services which meet local needs, represent value for money and deliver real outcomes for victims.
Notes to editors
Victims’ Information Service website and the telephone helpline number is 0808 168 9293 (freephone number).
- From 1 April 2015 PCCs took full responsibility for funding local services, cementing the government’s commitment to put victims at the forefront of criminal justice reform by ensuring support services can be tailored to meet the individual needs of communities across England and Wales.
- As also set out at that time, some victims’ services will continue to be commissioned centrally to ensure their services are available across England and Wales due to the severity of the crime. This includes the nationwide Homicide Support Service, and funding for Rape Support Centres.
- The total funding available in 2015/16 is £89.7 million. Of this, PCCs receive £63.15 million which includes £1.35 million to support victims of sexual violence and domestic violence.
- Victims in need of more in-depth emotional support can also call Victim Support’s free Supportline from 8pm to 8am on 0808 168 9111 and speak confidentially to specially trained staff and volunteers, or refer themselves securely online at victimsupport.org.uk.
- For further information please call the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536. Follow us @MoJpress.