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Crime victims get help

A national emergency freephone line to help victims deal with the trauma of crime will be announced this week as part of a pounds 1m government initiative, writes Stephen Castle.

The move, to be made public by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, is designed to underline Labour's pre-election and manifesto commitments to victims.

The phoneline will offer advice and guidance on the after-effects of crime, and point callers to sources of help including counselling and advice on issues such as compensation.

The public desire for more backing for victims was underlined during the Prime Minister's first question-and-answer session with members of the public, in Worcester last month. The meeting, which was on the subject of law and order, included police and other law-enforcement professionals.

Mr Blair has taken a strong personal interest in the issue since his days as shadow Home Secretary when he defined the party's objective as being "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime".