victim support

2022 at Supporting Justice: A Year in Review

This has been an exciting year for us as we emerged from reduced operations during the years of the pandemic protective measures and increased our activities into new areas and partnerships. We wanted to share with you some of the highlights of the past twelve months before we move forward into 2023, our 10th anniversary year.

Review of the Historical Institutional Abuse Scheme (Northern Ireland) Redress Scheme

Following a motion in the Northern Ireland Assembly in response to victim and survivor concerns over the redress process, we were commissioned by the Northern Ireland Executive to undertake a review of the redress process and make recommendations to improve the experience for victims and survivors.

We heard from victim and survivor groups about the difficulties navigating the process and the impact of engaging in a legalistic procedure in relation to their experience of abuse. We also consulted with a range of stakeholders, including the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board, the Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse, the Law Society and the Victim and Survivor Service.

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and the absence of a government in Stormont, the redress scheme had processed an impressive number of applications. The desire by all parties to improve the experience of engaging with and applying to the Scheme was especially encouraging. We are grateful to all for their assistance.

Our recommendations focused on presenting a clearer and more cohesive process for applicants through improving collaboration between all parties. We were mindful of the time limited nature of the Scheme and the advanced age of some applicants. The Redress Scheme legislation limits the operation of the Scheme to a maximum of five years, with our review taking place roughly halfway through. A priority for us was to avoid any delay which would risk denying victims and survivors the opportunity for redress before the Scheme ends.

All parties are working to take forward those operational recommendations that can be progressed in the absence of Ministers.

Road Harm Victim Needs Assessment

Our first piece of research from our partnership with Staffordshire University explored the needs of those affected by road traffic collisions. The Needs Assessment was commissioned by the Office of the Warwickshire Police Crime Commissioner to inform the move from grant funded to commissioned service for their Independent Road Victim Advocate service.

Working with Staffordshire colleagues Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw and Dr Jo Turner, the research included analysis of Warwickshire Police road collision data from 2017-2021 and police force FOI requests on road victim provision from 40 police forces. We held focus groups with 34 stakeholders and received completed questionnaires from a further eight. Supporting Justice led on victim engagement, undertaking ten in-depth interviews with victims, bereaved families and those otherwise affected by road traffic collisions (RTC).  

We discovered very little research in relation to the impact of RTCs and the needs of those affected, especially considering the extent of the issue, with five people killed or seriously injured by RTCs every day in England and Wales. We also discovered an incredibly engaged road safety and victim care sector, working hard to put the issue on to the agenda for government and other policy makers.

The research found a postcode lottery of provision, exacerbated by the gaps between crime and civil provision. We recommended the introduction of national service standards for locally commissioned services, ensuring consistent provision whilst enabling innovation. The full report and executive summary can be found here.

New Associates

A major highlight of 2022 for us has been the opportunity to welcome new associates, and we look forward to announcing more in the coming weeks.

We were lucky to have Stephen Chapman, the former Welsh Government Modern Slavery Coordinator join our team at the end of 2022. Steve has an incredible track record within criminal justice and disaster response, and we’re looking forward to utilising his extensive skills in multi-agency and cross-government working.

As part of our Community Interest Company status, Supporting Justice have committed to working with early career researchers in order to support and add capacity to the victim and witness sector more generally. Amy Sage joined us in October 2022 to shadow a Quality Mark assessment and site visit, in preparation for a renewed focus on the Mark in 2023. Amy is currently undertaking PhD research at the University of Bristol, looking at the exclusions to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme for victims with criminal convictions.

2023 – SuJu turns 10!

2023 is our 10th anniversary and we are looking forward to continuing our expansion, building on our track record of supporting justice and improving outcomes for victims and witnesses. We will share more details on how we are going to mark this milestone throughout the year

Read more

Support Needs in the Family Court

There has been much talk in recent times of our criminal justice system being in turmoil, if not crisis. Much of this has been fuelled by the cuts made to legal aid provision: the courts are seeing ever greater numbers of defendants having to represent themselves at hearings. As well as this being perceived as a diminution of the rights of defendants to a fair trial and the disposal of effective justice it can also have a deleterious impact on witnesses who may be subjected to cross examination in court by those untrained and, often ill prepared defendants.

But there’s also something of a crisis in the family courts. “Crisis” was the word used by the previous Head of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, and whilst his successor Sir Andrew McFarlane has suggested that the word “crisis” may not be helpful, he too remains in no doubt that there are serious issues that need to be addressed. Family courts are continuing to see an increase in the volume of cases being heard – in the period April to June this year over sixty eight thousand cases started in family courts, a seven percent increase from a similar period last year. The number of domestic violence remedy order applications has risen over a similar timeframe.

It has  sometimes been assumed that those appearing in criminal trials are, because of the nature of the trial process and the potential impact on witnesses, victims and, indeed defendants  more in need of support than those attending civil cases or the family courts. But why should this be so? To appear at court, particularly if one is a victim of domestic abuse and in continuing need of protection and the need to feel safe is just as traumatic, potentially, as giving evidence in a criminal trial. And, as things stand, there is little by way of support available.

The Witness Service offers support before and during criminal proceedings to witnesses giving evidence at all criminal courts in England and Wales. This support has proved to be invaluable to thousands of such witnesses each year and offered them better opportunity, as a result, to give their best evidence when they appear. It is widely recognised throughout the system as being an invaluable and highly valued part of the overall provision of an effective and efficient justice system.

The support offered at criminal trials is long overdue in the family courts where those appearing, far too often unrepresented, are just as in need of support. Appearing at family court can be a hugely stressful experience and, if justice is to be be served, there is a real need, no, a demand, for support and help to navigate what is a difficult and often complex system to be made available to those with such needs.

Read more

Quality Standards for victim support services in Serbia

Our collaboration with VSE

We are delighted to have been able to help Victim Support Europe and the Multi Donor Trust Fund for Justice Sector Support in Serbia with the production of their recent report.

Supporting Justice has collaborated on this piece of work and engaged with colleagues in Serbia over the past few years and we hope that this will play a significant part in improving the support offered and delivered to victims of crime in Serbia.

The report also recognises that Supporting Justice is leading the way and pioneering this approach in England and Wales. Our Quality Mark standards has been of real use in the development of ideas and production within the report, highlighting the need for standards, indicators and criteria to assess the effectiveness of victim care.
As the executive summary highlights;

“It is important to be able to verify the quality of aid to victims.”

Our Quality Mark

The development of our Victims Choice standards and the application of our independent and outcome focused approach is one that we think has intrinsic merit in delivering effective victim care.

The recipients of our Quality Mark think so too, recognising that it has helped them deliver even better service to victims.

It is heartening to read that our contribution to the improvement in victim care is recognised beyond these shores.
We look forward to continuing to assist others in their determination to improve victim services wherever they are needed.


Contact Us

If you would like to know more about our Quality Mark standards please get in touch.

As well as our Quality Mark assessment, we also offer a touchpoint analysis to help you determine if your organisation is “Quality Mark ready.”

We are happy to provide more information on request.

Read more