Victims of violent crime can experience serious and long-lasting consequences. Aside from the physical and mental injuries resulting from the incident, violent crime can also have an impact on your career and your personal relationships. For this reason, victims require extensive support to help them recover and to move on with their lives. This is the role that charities such as Victim Support play.
In this post, we’ll answer the question “what is Victim Support?” by looking at the history and activities of this important charity. We’ll give you an overview of the services they offer and how to get in touch with them. Finally, we’ll consider some alternative sources of support for victims of violent crime. This includes claiming compensation from the government-run Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
What is Victim Support?
Victim Support is a charity that offers a range of support services for victims and witnesses of crime across England and Wales. The organisation receives a substantial part of its funding from Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC). PCCs are elected officials who oversee police forces and fire services in England and Wales.
Nevertheless, Victim Support is independent of the police and the criminal justice system. This means that you can make use of their services even if the crime was not reported to the police. Additionally, their services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and the crime can have taken place at any point in the past.
All of this means that Victim Support is – and has long been – a vital source of help for victims of crime. In the following sections, we’ll look at the history of Victim Support, how its services have developed over time, and what it currently offers. We’ll also tell you how you can get in touch with Victim Support if you need help.
Finally, we’ll look at additional sources of support for victims of violent crime, including making a CICA claim for compensation. Given the significant impact that crime can have on the victims, compensation can be an important way to redress some of the damage done and to help you move past the event. If you are considering a CICA claim, read this post for information on whether you should accept the first offer.
A brief history of Victim Support
Victim Support was not initially a unified organisation but rather a series of smaller, independent schemes serving different regions of the UK. The first Victim Support scheme was established in 1974 in Bristol. By 1978 there were 30 similar schemes operating across England and Wales. This rapid growth demonstrates the importance of the services Victim Support offers.
In 1979, the National Association of Victim Support Schemes was founded to act as an overarching body to coordinate the ever-growing number of independent schemes. A national office was established in London in 1980, and a code of practice was established in 1981. That year, the police referred 18,000 victims to the 67 schemes that were active at the time. In 1987, Victim Support became a registered charity and started to receive core funding from the Home Office.
As the organisation grew, so too did the range of services it offered. In 1989, the first steps to launching a Witness Service were taken, and it was fully launched in 1994. In 1998, Victim Support launched a telephone helpline called Supportline, which continues to operate to this day.
Finally, in 2008 the local charities making up Victim Support fully merged, leading to the unified organisation that continues to support victims across England and Wales to this day.
What does Victim Support do?
The range of services that Victim Support offers is extensive. For a full, detailed list you can consult their website.
In the most general terms, the support offered can be separated into two categories.
Firstly, they offer practical advice on a range of issues that may affect victims of violent crime. For example, they can help you with navigating the criminal justice system, from making a police report to appearing in court as a witness. This can be as simple as outlining the process for you and making sure you understand the steps you’ll need to take. Most people have little experience dealing with the police or with the courts, and this can in and of itself be frightening.
The practical support they offer also includes helping you to resolve some of the concrete difficulties that you may be required to deal with in the aftermath of a crime. From seeking medical help to repairing damage to your property, these practicalities can be difficult to tackle and lead to further distress for victims.
Aside from these various practical issues, Victim Support also offer essential emotional support by providing an understanding ear as well as knowledgeable advice and feedback. Ultimately, for many victims simply being listened to with care and attention by someone who can empathise with their plight is a vital source of comfort. They do not offer formal counselling services, but if someone requires this, they can be referred to organisations that do.
In addition to the practical and emotional support that Victim Support can provide, there is also a range of specialist services they can offer. These are tailored to particular circumstances. If, for instance, you have been a victim of domestic abuse or fraud and cybercrime, there are specific forms of support that you can draw on. The full list of specialist services can be accessed on Victim Support’s website.
Victim Support also works with a range of other organisations to which they can refer you. Whatever your specific circumstances, they will either be able to help you directly or put you in touch with people who can.
How to get in touch with Victim Support
There is a range of ways to get in touch with Victim Support, including:
- Calling their 24/7 Supportline
- Filling in the contact form on their website
- Using their webchat service
- Setting up an account on their dedicated My Support Space site
Whichever method you choose, it’s also worth bearing in mind that there are a large number of local Victim Support offices, each of which offers services tailored to the area. The full list of local services can be found here. You can contact these local offices directly.
For further details on the different ways to contact Victim Support, as well as some helpful links to other services for victims, read our post on victim support services here.
Claiming compensation through CICA
Alongside practical guidance and emotional support, financial help can often be essential to recovering from the impact of violent crime.
There are various sources of financial aid available for victims of crime, including a range of benefits you can claim. However, if the impact is particularly severe as a result of physical or mental injuries – as well as any consequent loss of earnings – it is worth considering seeking compensation.
CICA is a government agency that operates the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. This government-funded scheme is designed to support victims of violent crime. By offering compensation to victims, they aim to not only help as you recover from your injuries and to offset any financial impact the crime has had, but also, in their own words, to recognise that you have been a victim.
CICA will require that the crime is reported to the police before you are able to claim. Further, there is a time limit for making a CICA claim: it should be made within two years after the incident. If it is later than this, there must be some exceptional circumstance that entailed you could not claim any earlier.
If you are considering a CICA claim, you should strongly consider seeking legal advice from solicitors with experience in the area. There is a range of technicalities that must be considered for such applications, and not only is this not something you will want to tackle alone as you try to recover from the incident, but it can also result in valid claims being rejected.
HNK can help with your CICA claims
Here at HNK, we have a team of solicitors with extensive experience in supporting victims of violent crime to get the compensation they deserve. We can offer sensitive and knowledgeable support with the whole claims process, making sure that you meet all necessary deadlines and that your claim is presented in the strongest possible way.
If you have been the victim of violent crime and are considering making a CICA claim, get in touch with HNK for a free consultation. We can help you decide, in the first instance, whether you will be eligible to claim compensation by discussing the specifics of your situation. If we do think you are entitled to a claim, we can take up the claim on a no-win, no-fee basis.
To get started, you can simply fill out the form on our website to request a callback. Alternatively, call us on 0151 203 1104 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.