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Early learning from Victim Support’s Homicide Service

Researchers: Caroline Turley
Published: February 2012

Aim

The aim of this qualitative research was to assess the factors affecting the implementation, delivery and effect of Victim Support’s Homicide Service during its first 14 months of operation.

About the service

The Homicide Service was set up to provide a nationally consistent service, run by paid staff, specialising in support for people bereaved by murder or manslaughter. Bereaved people are assigned a professional case worker who acts as a single point of contact from the point of referral up until the bereaved person no longer needs support. The case worker helps the bereaved come to terms with their loss and deal with the many practical issues that arise following a homicide.

Findings

Victim Support’s performance management data showed that between 1 March 2010 and 5 May 2011 a total of 857 homicide notifications were received from the police, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and via self-referral by bereaved people.

Initial delivery

The qualitative research found that the service improved how Homicide Service staff and police worked together, and improved police views of Victim Support more generally.

At the time of the research, there were several areas where delivery of the Homicide Service needed improvement, including:

  • the considerable pressure on resources,  particularly for Homicide Service case workers with large caseloads;
  • what was felt to be insufficient training for staff to prepare them fully for service delivery;
  • a perceived lack of engagement from Victim Support’s core service, which impacted on the use of volunteers to help support the Homicide Service case workers.

Effects

In-depth interviews with bereaved service users found that the effects of the Homicide Service on them were overwhelmingly positive, leading to improved emotional and psychological well-being, reduced stress and anxiety and facilitating a more positive outlook.

Methodology

The research had four parts:

  • a scoping phase involving qualitative interviews with strategic Victim Support staff;
  • qualitative case studies involving in-depth, face-to-face interviews with bereaved families and Homicide Service delivery staff;
  • analysis of performance management data;
  • findings workshops with staff.

Read the report