The Victim Support movement in the UK began in Bristol in 1974, when people from the local community came together to help victims of crime. This was in recognition of the fact that, at that time, the needs of victims of crime were largely unrecognised by the criminal justice system and there was little formal support for victims.
In 1978, the National Association of Victim Support schemes (NAVSS) was established as an umbrella organisation for local victim support schemes throughout the United Kingdom.
In 1981, the first Scottish victim support scheme was established in Coatbridge. By the mid-eighties, many local communities across Scotland were coming together to set up local victim support schemes. It was decided to set up a separate national association for Scottish schemes, separate from NAVSS, in recognition of the geographical distances involved and the separate Scottish legal system. The Scottish Association of Victim Support Schemes (now Victim Support Scotland) was established in 1985. There are strong working links with Victim Support organisations throughout the UK, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.
Victim Support Scotland has had charitable status since August 1985 and was established as an independent company limited by guarantee in 1989. Since it was established, Victim Support Scotland has become the lead organisation in Scotland providing emotional support and practical assistance to all victims of crime.
The community based Victim Service exists in all local authority areas in Scotland. These were separate charities but moved to one charity with Victim Support Scotland on 1st July 2007. Trained volunteers and staff deliver services to victims of crime, working to national standards for these services.
The Witness Service is based in every Sheriff and High court. Trained volunteers, supported by paid staff, offer a service to all witnesses who attend court, both for the defence and the prosecution.
The Youth Justice Service is specifically focused to assist the victims of youth crime, developing services in this area and working closely with the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA), the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) and local Youth Justice teams.
Victim Support works to improve and increase knowledge about victims and witnesses through research studies, projects, appropriate publicity and information materials. The organisation has been instrumental in raising the profile of victims and witnesses in the public, parliamentary and criminal justice arenas. The organisation has become a major player in the criminal justice system, influencing government policy and helping to improve the experience of victims and witnesses of crime.