Victims of crime may have support cut back

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VITAL support to victims of crime in West Yorkshire could be cut or disappear altogether if the Government goes ahead with some of its planned changes to the criminal justice system, the charity Victim Support warns today.

Last year the charity helped 5,008 victims of crime in the county, including 1,783 who were assaulted or subjected to other violent crimes, but it says the numbers could drop significantly if the reforms mean a patchy service in some areas.

Under the new plans local police and crime commissioners will be responsible for victims’ and witnesses’ services instead of them being managed and overseen nationally as they are now.

The charity believes these changes will increase administration costs.

It fears some services could disappear if the local commissioner has other priorities.

Lesley McLean, head of Victim Support in West Yorkshire said: “We believe this new approach to services will increase costs without guaranteeing that every victim of crime will get the same level of help.”

“This isn’t in the best interests of victims and witnesses, it’s change for the sake of change and it’s wasteful. Services will become more expensive and of lower quality.”

Victim Support wants to see a continuation of the current service using local staff and volunteers without wasting money on “unnecessary form-filling and paperwork.”

She said the charity did, however, back other Government proposals such as offenders paying more to compensate victims and extending the use of victim impact statements in court