A new service led by Victim Support Scotland (VSS) will provide free, practical and emotional support to victims of crime across the country.
The charity has been awarded £13.8 million by the SNP Government over three years, part of which will provide for a new homicide service giving families of murder victims access to a dedicated case worker and continuous support.
It will also lead development of a new ‘victim centred’ approach, working with partners to streamline points of contact, improve information flow and ensure victims of crime feel supported through the criminal justice system. This will reduce the need for victims to have to retell their story to several different organisations as they seek help.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP said:
“Victims and their families often have to turn to multiple organisations to get information about the criminal justice process and find out what support they are entitled to receive. This can feel like they are being passed from pillar to post, adding to their trauma when they are most vulnerable. I want to improve the situation and that is why have announced funding for VSS to work in partnership with criminal justice and victim support bodies to develop an innovative approach. Along with the Homicide Service it will ease the journey for victims and their families, regardless of whether they engage with the criminal justice process.”
Kate Wallace, VSS Chief Executive added:
“We’re delighted with the shift to three-year funding which provides us with greater long-term stability to enhance the front-line support we provide for people affected by crime. The creation of the Homicide Service and victim-centred approach are also very positive new developments and we will work closely with all our partners to make these a reality.”
Bea Jones, mother of Moira Jones who was murdered in Queens Park, in 2008 and who has campaigned for greater support in Scotland for families bereaved through murder said:
“This is a major step and one which will have a positive impact on many lives in Scotland. It will ensure more families will be helped than before, and with the right support, at the right time and from the right people. I’m pleased that in Moira's name her charity has played a part in bringing about today’s news and that it enriches her legacy.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“The SNP Government’s aim is to place victims’ interests at the heart of the justice system.
“The Thomson Review of Victim Care in the Justice Sector in Scotland recognised that victims can feel like they are passed from one organisation to another and feel more traumatised at a time when they are most in need of support. I am glad that these concerns have now been addressed.”
VSS provides support and information services to victims and witnesses of crime in Scotland through community-based Victim Services and court-based Witness Services, which are free, confidential and provided by trained volunteers and staff across every local authority and Court.
A report setting out further details on the victim-centred approach will be published by Spring 2019.