Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK has praised the important contribution made by a local charity towards supporting victims of crime in the Isle of Man.
While the Island is considered one of the safest places in the British Isles, Mr Watterson said he recognised the growing demand for services provided by Victim Support Isle of Man.
‘Victim Support delivers a high-quality service to the local community, helping people when they are at their most vulnerable. The Department of Home Affairs is focused on creating safer communities and protecting the Island's quality of life, and the charity plays a prominent role in that work.’
Mr Watterson added:
‘I am currently leading a major reform of the Isle of Man’s criminal justice system, which is seeking to enhance a number of key policy areas. Ensuring an even greater emphasis on the needs of victims of crime is an important part of the strategy and Victim Support will continue to work with us to drive this forward.’
Paula Gelling, the Manager of Victim Support Isle of Man, provided an overview of the organisation’s activities over the past 12 months during its recent annual general meeting.
The independent charity, which is based in Douglas, offers free and confidential help to victims and witnesses of crime, their families and friends.
In the past year, Victim Support dealt with 169 new referrals - providing information, practical advice and emotional support to people aged from 4 years old to 76.
Its dedicated team of volunteers also assisted 208 witnesses involved in 31 trials and hearings, compared with 181 witnesses across 37 cases in the previous year.
The bulk of the work remains focused on supporting victims of physical and sexual assaults, domestic abuse and those affected by fatal road traffic collisions.
The charity is not part of government, the police or criminal justice system, but works closely with all agencies to contribute to the national priority of protecting vulnerable members of the community.
Paula Gelling said:
‘While the Isle of Man’s crime rate is falling, our workload is not. The level of referrals has remained constant over the past decade and I cannot see this changing in the foreseeable future.’
‘Fundraising is still a major issue. We have to work smarter with fewer resources and yet continue to provide the platinum service to people who are often experiencing the worst time of their lives.’
Victim Support receives an annual contribution from the Department of Home Affairs, but otherwise relies on its fundraising activities and donations from the public and corporate sponsors.