History

Set up nearly 50 years ago, Victim Support is the leading independent victims’ charity in England and Wales.

The first Victim Support scheme was set up in Bristol in 1974, and by 1986 every county in England and Wales had at least one Victim Support scheme. We registered as a charitable company in 1987 and set up our free national telephone helpline, Supportline, in 1998.

The first Victim Support scheme is set up in Bristol by Chris Holtom.

30 similar schemes exist across England and Wales.
The National Association of Victim Support Schemes was created as an ‘umbrella body’ for the local schemes. Funding comes from private trusts and the Home Office’s Voluntary Services Unit.
Victim Support’s first paid national member of staff and part-time secretary take up their posts. The National Office is established in Brixton, London, and the first national newsletter is published.
Victim Support has 67 member schemes and that year the police refer 18,000 victims to us. A national code of practice is created to make sure that our services are consistent and appropriate, and that every scheme has a local management committee. We hold our first national conference.

Our 10th anniversary. Our work has an increasing influence on government. The All Party Penal Affairs Group publishes A new deal for victims, and the Home Affairs Committee publishes Compensation and support for victims of crime.

Every county in England and Wales has at least one local Victim Support scheme. Work begins to develop a service in Northern Ireland.
We start to get core funding from the Home Office and we register as a charitable company limited by guarantee.
The Home Office publishes a new information leaflet to be given by police to all victims reporting a crime. It gives information on compensation, Victim Support and crime prevention. A second leaflet gives information to victims and witnesses going to court.
The European Forum for Victim Services is created, with 22 February designated as European Victims’ Day. The first steps to create our Witness Service begin with a piece of work to look at the needs of people attending court.

We publish the findings of our review of the needs of victims and witnesses at court. This leads to the launch of our first victim and witness in court project. The Government publishes the Victims’ Charter.

The Home Office agrees to fund the Crown Court Witness Service.

We now offer help to one million people a year. The Crown Court Witness Service is launched. The 20th anniversary of the first Victim Support branch in Bristol is marked by the launch of the first Victim Support Week in February.

We launch a campaign promoting victims’ rights within the criminal justice system.

We now have a Witness Service in every Crown Court in England and Wales.

Our telephone helpline, Supportline, is launched to give support on the phone and to improve access to our other services.
We mark 25 years of helping people affected by crime and get Home Office funding to set up the Witness Service in all 550 magistrates’ courts in England and Wales.
We publish a major new report called Criminal Neglect. This is to mark the beginning of a campaign to encourage policy makers across all areas of government and social provision to recognise and provide for the needs of the victims of crime.

We now have a Witness Service in every criminal court in England and Wales.

Victim Support celebrates its 30th anniversary. The event is marked in November with a special reception at Lancaster House in London in the presence of our President, HRH The Princess Royal.

Chief Executive, Dame Helen Reeves DBE retires after 26 years with Victim Support. Gillian Guy is appointed as her successor.

In the aftermath is published, a major new report into the needs of people affected by homicide.
Members of Victim Support from across England and Wales vote at an extraordinary general meeting to create a single national charity to replace the existing federation. The Government also announces further investment in our services for victims leading to the creation of new, enhanced, ‘Victim Support Plus’ services.

Merger of the local charities that make up Victim Support begins on 1 January 2008.

The National Centre moves to new premises in Central London. We hold our first national volunteer awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

We celebrate our 35th anniversary at a reception in London and hold our first conference as a single, national charity. It is the 20th anniversary of Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, becoming our Patron (now President).

To reflect our ‘reborn’ status as a new national charity we introduced new branding with a new logo and the strapline ‘Find the strength’. This was backed up by our first national advertising campaign.

Chief Executive Gillian Guy was replaced by Javed Khan.

We launch our national Homicide Service.

The Supportline celebrates its 15th birthday.

Brooke Kinsella MBE joins the charity as our first Ambassador.

We celebrate our 40th anniversary.

Chief Executive Javed Khan leaves Victim Support. He is replaced by Mark Castle OBE.

Our Waiting for Justice report is released, which looks at why victims of crime are waiting longer than ever for criminal trials, and we publish our manifesto for victims and witnesses, Making a Victims Law a Reality.

We offer support to victims and witnesses of the terrorist attacks in Tunisia and Paris and launch our International Visitors Victims Centre in London, in association with MOPAC and the Metropolitan Police, providing free support and information to tourists who fall victim to crime.

The Victims’ Code is expanded and the Government announces that it will bring in a Victims’ Law to increase victims’ rights, which Victim Support has long campaigned for.

We publish an insight report looking at the risk factors associated with becoming a victim of violent crime or theft. Through this research, we find that people with limiting disabilities or illnesses are nearly three and a half times more likely to suffer violence with injury than people with no limiting disability or illness.

We also produce a report on terrorism – finding that some people traumatised after being caught up in terrorist attacks are falling through gaps in the support system.

Terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire

We respond to a year of horrific terror attacks, contacting more than 1,400 affected people and receiving referrals from approximately half of all police forces in England and Wales.

Our Supportline operates 24/7, with specially trained staff and volunteers on hand to ensure victims and their families access immediate emotional support, practical advice and financial assistance. Our National Homicide Service works with families bereaved by all four attacks.

We launch a report at the House of Commons on responding to terror attacks.

We also support many of the victims, their families and communities, affected by the Grenfell Tower Fire, and were there, on the scene, on the night of the fire.

Other activities

Victim Support forms a coalition of NGOS – including Liberty, Barnardo’s, Rape Crisis and NWG – who write to the Justice Secretary in July to call for fairer compensation for victims of child abuse and grooming.

This led to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority – the government agency responsible for compensating victims – changing its policy and granting compensation to victims.

A new report, Victim of the System, is released at a reception in the House of Commons. Based on research with nearly 400 victims, the report looks at the challenges victims face in the criminal justice system and finds that victims are not currently receiving their rights under the Victims’ Code. We recommend that victims’ rights be strengthened.

We publish our manifesto for the general election, calling for all political parties to commit to strengthen victims’ rights and safeguard and support the vulnerable. A number of our proposals were adopted by the main political parties.

Diana Fawcett is appointed Chief Executive of Victim Support.

We produce a report on domestic abuse, Survivor’s Justice, examining survivors’ experiences of the criminal justice system.

We celebrate being ranked the top voluntary sector employer in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, including receiving Top Trans Employer status.