Set up over 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 is 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 [PDF]. This is to mark the beginning of a campaign to encourage policy makers across all areas of government and social provision to recognise the needs of 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 [PDF] 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.

Victim Support launches its first equality, diversity and inclusion network for staff and volunteers, the LGBTQ+ Network. Following the success and engagement of the LGBTQ+ Network, a Disability and Mental Health Network and R.A.C.E Inclusive Network are established in the following years. These networks build spaces for people to share their diverse experiences and foster an inclusive culture across Victim Support for staff, volunteers and service users.

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 is replaced by Javed Khan.

We launch our national Homicide Service.

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 [PDF] report is released, which looks at why victims of crime are waiting longer than ever for criminal trials. We publish our manifesto for victims and witnesses, Making a Victims Law a Reality [PDF].

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

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

We publish an insight report [PDF] 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 [PDF] – 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 support, 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 [PDF].

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 (non-governmental organisations) – 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 [PDF], 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 [PDF], 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.

We work alongside the Home Office and other organisations on the government’s Domestic Abuse Bill, which was published and consulted on in 2018–19. We produce a report on domestic abuse, Survivor’s justice [PDF], examining survivors’ experiences of the criminal justice system. The Bill included a number of recommendations from that report, including stronger Domestic Violence Protection Orders, granting all domestic abuse victims special measures, and training for frontline police officers.

Diana Fawcett is appointed Chief Executive of Victim Support.

Using our research and insights, we work closely with the government during the development of the Victims Strategy [PDF], which was published in September 2018. A number of our key policy asks are adopted by the government, including: commitments to reforms to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme; improve the monitoring of the Victims’ Code; enshrine victims’ rights in legislation; and improve the court experience for victims.

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

We secure the contract to provide the new London Victim and Witness Service, which includes the provision of both restorative justice and pre-trial witness services.

We launch New Era, a new countywide domestic abuse service in Staffordshire.

Our West Yorkshire Independent Sexual Violence Advisor service is awarded the first Lime Culture ‘Quality Mark’ in the country for supporting male victims of sexual violence.

The Government abolishes the ‘same roof’ rule. (This meant victims of sexual assault who had lived with the offender before 1979 could not claim compensation for the abuse they had experienced.) This follows a successful court challenge and our campaign with Barnardo’s, Rape Crisis and others.

We publish research on the needs of people bereaved by homicide [PDF] and the learnings from Domestic Violence Prevention Orders [PDF].

Our research report Trapped – How barriers to escaping an abusive relationship should be addressed by policy and practice [PDF] is released.

We successfully retain the contract to provide victim services across London, including the provision of both restorative justice and witness services.

We retain the National Homicide Service contract, a vital service that supports families bereaved through murder or manslaughter. This service also won the Lord Mayor of London’s Dragon Award during 2018–19 for Innovation.

Victim Support continues to grow its equality, diversity and inclusion networks with the launch of the Gender Empowerment Network. Following review and consultation, the previous Disability and Mental Health Network is separated in to two standalone networks: the Disability Network, and the Mental Health and Wellbeing Network.

The most recent addition to our networks is the Faith and Belief Network, an inter-faith space that provides support, discussion and awareness-raising around all elements of faith and belief.

Victim Support becomes part of the national Criminal Justice in Wales partnership, setting objectives and goals to improve the experience of victims and witnesses across Wales. We have a key role in representing the view of victims, and working alongside criminal justice agencies to develop local plans at Local Criminal Justice Board level.

We adapt our services to meet the challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic. Ensuring continued delivery, we develop new guidance materials to specifically address the new needs we are seeing from people most impacted.

Later in 2020 we release our report, Crime and Covid-19 [PDF]. This found that the crime experienced by victims and survivors increased in both severity and intensity since the first lockdown, leading to higher levels of anxiety and mental health problems among victims.

We launch our new interactive platform My Support Space on 1 April. The online resource offers a range of interactive tools to help manage the impact of crime.

We make our live chat service available 24/7 for everyone living in England and Wales.

We relaunch The Support Room, a peer-to-peer forum for people bereaved by murder of manslaughter. This has led to an increased number of users with regular contributors.

In April, we launch our iMatter programme, a programme designed for women aged 16 and over who have been, or are currently, victims of domestic abuse.

Victim Support is selected to be the Strategic Partner in Devon and Cornwall, delivering an innovative commissioning model for victim services throughout the two counties.

We are awarded our Cyber Essentials Plus certification, demonstrating the high level of commitment Victim Support has to security. We retain our Leaders in Diversity accreditation for the third time, ranking fifth in this year’s National Centre for Diversity Top 100 Most Inclusive Workplace list.

We develop our iMatter programme into a broader offer. VS Cumbria pilot They Matter, a six-month programme for high-risk heterosexual male perpetrators. And our children and young people (CYP) services now offer WeMatter, to provide online support for CYP who have experienced domestic abuse.

We publish Restoring trust [PDF], a report funded by MOPAC about the impact on children witnessing or being exposed to domestic abuse.

By the end of its second year, more than 12,000 people register on My Support Space, our interactive online platform where users complete self-support guides. The platform now contains over 70 interactive guides for people affected by crime as well as a range of supporter guides for friends and family.

We develop resources, which were promoted by over 100 external agencies, to improve initial response and support to survivors of non-recent child sexual abuse (CSA). This was part of our two-year project funded by the Home Office. We also launch a series of interactive My Support Space guides designed for adult survivors of CSA.

Victim Support receives the RoSPA Gold Award for health and safety.

We publish the Language barriers in the criminal justice system report [PDF] at the end of a collaboration with ICPR at Birkbeck, University of London and the Centre for Justice Innovation.

Victim Support is named the UK’s third best employer for LGBTQ+ people, also ranking top in Wales and first among not-for-profit organisations – according to LGBTQ+ equality charity, Stonewall.

We give evidence to the Justice Select Committee on fraud and the Victims Bill.

We publish It’s who I am [PDF], a report on improving the support for victims of hate crime in Wales, funded by the Welsh Government.

We celebrate the success of our staff from South Yorkshire and Humberside who were the first cohort to graduate as qualified Independent Victim Advocates (IVAs) from our nationally-recognised Open College Network accredited programme.

Victim Support wins the Children and Young People’s Charity Award 2022 for the charity that has made the most impressive contribution, at a local or national level, to improve the life chances of children, young people or families.

Victim Support retains the National Homicide Service contract, providing valuable support those who’ve been bereaved through homicide both at home and abroad. The service expanded to include support for direct eyewitnesses to homicide or a major criminal incident where a person is killed, alongside enhanced support for children and young people.

We introduce new support methods for deaf and hard of hearing service users – Relay UK and our SignLive service. We also carry out a survey to understand the impact of the cost of living on victims of crime.

In 2022-2023, we contact 762,992 people to offer information and support after they experience crime or a traumatic event.

Victim Support gives in-person evidence to the Home Affairs Committee in Parliament on policing priorities. ​

We are named the UK’s third best employer for LGBTQ+ people (top not for profit) and also rank top in Wales by LGBTQ+ charity, Stonewall. We announce Victim Support has been certified to ISO27001, a standard which outlines how to securely handle and store information.

We introduce the new VS Voice app, an app where victims of crime and traumatic events can share their experiences, ideas and opinions.

Victim Support welcomes a new CEO, Katie Kempen.

We write an open letter to the justice secretary, Alex Chalk, condemning the lack of a Victims’ Commissioner one year on from the resignation of Dame Vera Baird.

Our national fraud lead appears in the House of Commons before the Home Affairs Select Committee to give oral evidence as part of the Committee’s inquiry into fraud.

We publish a new report on the impact of murder on witnesses and their journey to recovery [PDF].

To mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we welcome three government ministers and the Deputy Directors of Prosecutions to our London office, to discuss our vital work supporting women, and how we can better tackle gender-based violence.​