Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 17:30 UK

Straw pledges more victim support

Jack Straw

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has pledged to increase support for victims of crime and bereaved relatives.

He announced plans for a new Victims Service in England and Wales, backed by £11m of funding in the next two years.

The "pioneering" plan will initially offer one-to-one care and support for relatives of murder victims, ultimately extended to all victims of crime.

Labour could not be "written off" despite its current troubles, Mr Straw said, urging it to show "self-belief".

'Challenge'

"There is one thing my experience tells me," he told the Labour party conference.

"You never write Labour off. We have faced tougher times and we have come through them. We never shirk a challenge."

He added: "If we show self-belief we will win next year."

Mr Straw said Labour had transformed the help available to victims of crime, such as creating the role of Victims Champion, but wanted to go further.

A new National Victims Service will be launched next year to provide practical, emotional and financial support to victims of crime and to help guide them through the criminal justice system.

"We will start with those bereaved victims whose lives have been torn apart by the murder or manslaughter of a loved one," Mr Straw told the Labour conference.

"Over time the service will be available to everyone who has been a victim of crime. If they want more support, we will be there for them."

The Victim Support charity will co-ordinate the new service, getting £2m in extra funding this year and a further £8.5m the following year. It welcomed the initiative.

"Victim Support can now deepen the help we provide for the thousands of people affected by homicide each year," said its chief executive Gillian Guy.

"When people's lives fall apart, we will work with others to make sure they get the support they need."



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