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Crash victims support helpline service will 'free up police resources'

The future of a support group for road crash victims has been secured with cash from the Department for Transport.

The National Road Victim Service, which was created by the road safety charity Brake, will help reduce the impact of trauma and bereavement with “lasting, specialist support” for crash victims.

The UK-wide service, which has been running for more than 20 years, provides a helpline and advocacy services that usually begin with 24 hours of an incident where someone is killed.

The grant of £169,685 for 2020/21 has been calculated by the charity to save police forces around £2.2m by freeing up officer time. It also provides significant savings to other key statutory services, such as health and social care, by reducing the likelihood of support being needed for victims who develop long-term mental or physical illness.

The service already receives funding from the Scottish Government, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, a number of Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales and corporate supporters of Brake.

It is the latest example of funding decisions by central government focused around victim support and preventative work that can save the public sector money over the long term.

The service will have significant demand as, according to official figures for 2018, there were 25,514 fatal or serious road crashes in the UK.

The scheme will run as accredited helpline and information service delivered in partnership with all police forces. 

Mary Williams, Brake chief executive, said the charity could now do more to enable frontline officers focus on other major priorities: “At this time of COVID-19, it is particularly important that our emergency and health services are supported by the NGO sector through the provision of vital humanitarian services, such as appropriate care of people bereaved suddenly, including by road crashes.”

Dame Vera Baird, Victims Commissioner for England and Wales, welcomed the decision to give victims a higher priority: “All victims deserve support throughout their recovery and so I’m delighted that the Department for Transport have stepped in to fund the National Road Victim Service run by Brake.

“We all know someone who has been affected by a road crash but because these incidents are so common the victims can tragically be forgotten. Early and expert intervention not only delivers much needed support for victims, it also helps ease the burden on our stretched emergency services.”

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Roads Policing said officers would benefit from a specialists focusing on the needs of a crash victim rather and reducing the stress on officers.

He said: “Police officers attend thousands of serious and fatal road traffic collisions every year. The scale of suffering for victims and loved ones is immense and the impact on the officers who deal with these traumatic incidents should not be understated.

“Brake’s National Road Victim Service is absolutely central to the work of our Family Liaison Officers who support those victims. In addition the service helps ease the burden on the police and provides officers with vital expert advice and support.”

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