Straw announces launch of crime victims service

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Indy Politics

Families of murder victims will be the first to benefit from a new £8 million service to help victims of crime.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw today announced the launch date of the National Victims Service, which will begin work in March.

Services will be extended to victims of other crimes, including anti-social behaviour, from April.

Victims will be offered a "health check" to determine what they need. The most vulnerable will be eligible for intensive support from counsellors and practical help to rebuild their lives.

Sara Payne, mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne and the Government's "Victims' Champion", recommended the creation of the service in a report last year, and £8 million of additional funding has been made available.

She is recovering after suffering a brain aneurysm before Christmas.

Addressing the Royal Society for the Arts, Mr Straw said the service is part of major reforms to the justice system.

Help will be delivered by Victim Support and other charities.

"The aim is that for the first time, victims will be given support from the moment they report a crime or anti-social behaviour until the moment they say they no longer need help," he said.

"This is a defining moment. The National Victims Service will provide for anyone who has been a victim of crime and who wants assistance.

"If victims need help, we will be there for them. And fundamentally, it will ensure that supporting victims is firmly embedded in the culture of the justice service, as a core function of the service, not an optional add-on."