Victim support to improve service

VICTIM Support will offer a more efficient and a better service to people in Suffolk.That was the message from London-based national director Dame Helen Reeves at the official launch in Ipswich of the new area service and magistrates' court witness service.

By Amanda Cresswell

VICTIM Support will offer a more efficient and a better service to people in Suffolk.

That was the message from London-based national director Dame Helen Reeves at the official launch in Ipswich of the new area service and magistrates' court witness service.

She joined Lord Belstead, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk; Ipswich Mayor Maureen Carrington-Brown, magistrates' court staff, Crown Prosecution Service representatives, police, Victim Support staff and volunteers at the launch in Ipswich Town Hall.

Victim Support Suffolk, which was made up of a number of small groups, now operates countywide.

It has up to 130 volunteers working alongside staff offering:

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n Advice, support and information for victims.

n A crown court witness service in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds

n A magistrate witness service in five Suffolk courts including Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft, Sudbury and Mildenhall.

Victim Support Suffolk's area manager, Arnold Barrow, was delighted with the launch and said: "This is a one structure organisation operating across the county to provide an equal service.

"The plan is to have a countywide service in all 52 counties, including London, and we are half-way though that programme.

"We aim to provide a good service for every victim, some of whom may go on to become witnesses in court."

He added victims may have to relive in court anything from a personal assault, burglary or rape.

They may want someone to sit with them who understands the court processes and how the court progresses. Victim Support provides help, information and practical support.

Dame Helen said the new structure means Victim Support can provide a much more comprehensive service and improve training and recruitment of new volunteers.

Meanwhile Chris Yule, chief Crown Prosecutor in Suffolk, which helps provide training, said: "This is an important step forward for Victim Support in the county.

"The work that Victim Support and the witness service do is invaluable helping people go get caught up in the trauma of giving evidence in criminal proceedings."

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