Busiest year ever for victim service

VOLUNTEERS who provide crucial support to victims of crime today revealed serious concerns over the extent of alcohol-fuelled crime and domestic abuse in the county.

VOLUNTEERS who provide crucial support to victims of crime today revealed serious concerns over the extent of alcohol-fuelled crime and domestic abuse in the county.

Victim Support Suffolk said the level of offences linked to alcohol and the regularity of domestic abuse incidents were the two biggest issues to come out of the charity's busiest year ever.

Reflecting on the rise in referrals during 2004-2005, during which it offered support and assistance to almost 12,000 victims of crime, the group's area manager John Doylend said: "We're all appalled at what human beings do to human beings, it's difficult to make sense of it.

"We have to recognise the part that alcohol plays in it."


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And he added: "A lot of the crimes of violence are domestic violence, which is a serious problem.

"They are the two main themes that cause us most concern.

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"It's not just a Suffolk or East Anglian problem, throughout the land assaults keep increasing."

Victim Support Suffolk dealt with a 10per cent rise in referrals during 2004-2005, with volunteers handling a total of 11,981 cases.

That increase was largely attributed to Suffolk police referring more cases to the charity rather than an increase in crime and Mr Doylend stressed the county remained one of the country's safest.

However volunteers with Victim Support faced a greater workload in 2004-2005 than ever before.

The charity has revealed it helped more than 4,000 victims of assault during the year and provided crucial support and assistance to more than 350 victims of sexual assault.

They also worked with 20 family members and friends of victims of homicide and 28 cases involving people affected by a road death.

Nearly 4,250 people were helped through the often traumatic and intimidating process of being involved in a court case.

Of the charity's three offices across the county, the Ipswich office handled the most referrals during 2004-2005.

Mr Doylend said: "I can't praise our volunteers enough. Year-on-year we're asking them to do more work.

"It's a unique service because we meet people when they are in distress either through being a victim of crime or because they have to go to court to give evidence.

"It is demanding."

He added: "We feel strongly that we have an important part to play to help people through their recovery."

During the next year the charity plans to concentrate on recruiting new volunteers from ethnic minority communities.

Mr Doylend said: "We want to ensure we are a support for everyone in the community."

To find out more about Victim Support Suffolk or to become a volunteer visit www.victimsupport.org/vs_england_wales/contacts/suffolk

N Have you benefited from the work of Victim Support Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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