Victims' families 'need more help to cope'

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The Independent Online

The families of murder and manslaughter victims suffer a "devastating experience" and need more support from the police and other authorities to cope with the aftermath of their bereavement, according to a report today.

The grief which follows a homicide is more intense and overwhelming than that which follows a death by natural causes and it can seriously affect the everyday lives of the victim's family members.

Victim Support, Britain's leading victims' charity, has carried out in-depth interviews with 41 bereaved people, focus groups, police, probation staff and Victim Support staff and volunteers to produce a new report on their experiences.

Mothers and sons, sisters and fathers describe a "clear need" for more active practical support, greater sensitivity to their feelings throughout the criminal proceedings and a need for information during the investigation, at trial and beyond.

Peter Dunn, the charity's head of research, said: "The effect of bereavement by murder or manslaughter is emotionally and psychologically devastating for the hidden victims - the family and friends left behind.

"Our research paints a graphic picture of the wide-ranging feelings and circumstances that they experience. It gives us a new insight into the support needs of people bereaved by homicide. It will have a major impact on the re-development of Victim Support's services for people bereaved in this way.

"The findings from this research will be of enormous benefit, not only to Victim Support, but to other criminal justice agencies and other organisations working in this area."