Scottish Government announces new support service for families of homicide victims

Written by Jenni Davidson on 20 April 2018 in News

Victim Support Scotland will receive £13.8m for a homicide service and to develop a victim-centred approach to criminal justice

Justice secretary Michael Matheson - Image credit: David Anderson/Holyrood

The Scottish Government has announced funding for a new service to support bereaved families who have lost a loved one as a result of murder or culpable homicide.

The homicide service, which will be led by Victim Support Scotland (VSS), will provide practical and emotional support to victims' families across Scotland.

The charity has been awarded £13.8m over three years, with £1.2m of that set up the free service.

In addition, the funding will cover development of a new victim centred-approach to criminal justice in Scotland, with the key aim of reducing the need for victims to retell their story repeatedly to different organisations.

VSS – the largest body providing support to victims and witnesses of crime in Scotland – will lead the work along with partners to streamline points of contact, improve information flow and ensure victims are supported through the criminal justice system.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson announced the funding on a visit to VSS in Edinburgh, where he met the charity’s chief executive as well as Bea Jones, founder of The Moira Fund and mother of Moira Jones, who was murdered in Glasgow in 2008.

Matheson said: “I am aware that victims and their families often have to turn to multiple organisations to get information about the criminal justice process and find out what support they are entitled to receive.

“This can feel like they are being passed from one organisation to another – adding to their trauma when they are most vulnerable.

“I want to improve the situation and that is why I am announcing funding for VSS to work in partnership with criminal justice and victim support bodies to develop a new approach.

“Along with the Homicide Service it will ease the journey for victims and their families, whether or not they engage with the criminal justice process.”

Jones, who has campaigned for better support for families bereaved through murder said it was “an important step” and one that would have a “positive impact” on many lives in Scotland.

“It will ensure more families will be helped than before, and that those families will get the right support, at the right time and from the right people,” she said.

“I’m pleased that in Moira's name her charity has played a part in bringing about today’s news and that it enriches her legacy.”

Kate Wallace, chief executive of VSS, said she was “delighted” with the shift to three year funding which would provide greater long-term stability for the front-line support the charity offers to people affected by crime.

She added: “The creation of the Homicide Service and the victim-centred approach are also very positive new developments and we will be working closely with all our partners to make these a reality.”

VSS provides help through community-based victim services and court-based witness services.

Its free services are provided by trained volunteers and staff across every local authority area in Scotland as well as in every sheriff and high court.

A report setting out further details on the victim-centred approach will be published by spring 2019.

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