Commissioners may put Victim Support 'at risk'

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The Independent Online

Thousands of victims of crime could be left without help and support when 41 new police and crime commissioners are elected in November, ministers will be warned today.

Victim Support, an independent charity with 7,000 volunteers, will lose its pivotal role in helping crime victims under the Government's plans to "localise" and target aid. Budgets will be handed to the new commissioners, who will have to give priority to people who have suffered domestic and sexual violence but will otherwise have a free hand.

The charity warned that at least £21m will be wasted in extra bureaucracy – money that could provide intensive help for 25,000 domestic-violence and 20,000 antisocial-behaviour victims, 15,000 home-alarm kits for burglary victims and 100,000 personal alarms for people who suffer personal or street crime.

Javed Khan, the CEO of Victim Support, which receives a government grant of about £38m a year, said the switch would result in "a more expensive, fragmented and inefficient system".

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human-rights group Liberty, said: "Leaving help for victims to the whim of a locally elected politician will create a postcode lottery and risk funding being diverted to the most high-profile cases."