A strange car pulled into the yard of our small farm, and out stepped a perfect specimen of the tweed-skirt-and-sensible-shoes that is usually encountered behind the cash register of a High Street Charity shop.
We homed in on her with expectant expressions – ‘Mr G’ she said brightly, ‘Oh good, I thought I’d never find you, my, you’re ever so isolated up here!’
‘Er?’ said Mr G, never a man to waste words where a grunt will do.
‘Victim Support, I’ve come to see how I can help’, she patted his arm in a conspiratorial manner and ushered him expertly towards the front door. She clearly knew a reluctant victim when she saw one.
I shouldn’t knock the lady, she had done all her counselling courses, she gave her time freely, indeed she had travelled some 80 miles to visit us this fine morning, but it was a mystery as to why…
Mr G’s powers of grunting in the right place having clearly evaded him for the moment, I made her coffee and asked whether she was quite sure she had the right address. She pulled out a sheaf of papers, and ran through all the details, ‘Yup, Mr G, ‘I-run-it-my-way Farm’, right village, right county’. She could see that Mr G was showing all the finger tapping indications of a man about to escape her grasp. ‘I do know you farmers are very independant’, she said, ‘but we know how much good we can do when you can talk about things’.
A strangulated gurgle escaped his lips – I knew the warning signs, he was working up to actual speech. The mouth opened and closed several times whilst he practised, and finally emitted a cautious ‘What about’? Years of experience had taught him to avoid women who wanted ‘to talk’.
‘You had a burglary’ she said in that tone you use to address small children, ‘didn’t you?’
‘Yes, and you lost some tools, didn’t you? Tools can be very important to a man’.
She was good, I’ll give her that, but nowhere near good enough to persuade Mr G to emote over the loss of some £15 worth of ancient drain clearing rods on a night three months previously when several farms had been ‘raided’. The police had been to see if we had been ‘visited’ that night, and duly made a report to the effect that we had joined the growing throng of potential victims to be accorded counselling and support services….Mr G fled the kitchen, with na’er a backward glance, and left me to deal with her.
So I was a little surprised to find yesterday that Jack Straw was going to officially launch a ‘National Victims Service’ which would offer a dedicated support worker to help them get access to any assistance they need. Surely we already had one, and one with too much time on their hands, if our experience was anything to go by? More research was obviously needed, which led me into a stunning world of victimhood – stunning and expensive, to say nothing of expansive.
We can precisely date the time when losing your hated drain rods became as worthy of counselling as losing your grand-mother in a foul and heinous crime. 35 years ago. When the charity ‘Victim Support’ was first born into the brave new world of government grants. My, how the baby has flourished!
Some 28% of adults in England and Wales are thought to have been the victim of a personal crime or a crime on their household in 2001–02.1 Being a victim or a witness to a crime can be a life-changing event, whatever its nature or severity.
1 in 4 of the population – how could a Government department leave this to the private sector? Rich pickings for employment in the public sector were there for the taking.
Victim Support did their best to stay out of Government hands, by 2008 they had merged their network of regional charities into one amorphous blob, and were appealing for ‘development funds‘ to keep pace with ’social and cultural changes relating to crime’. Their annual costs had risen to £35 million.
But the Government had an ace up its sleeve – they had a ‘Victim’s Champion’ no less, none other than Sarah Payne, and she produced a report saying that the Government should take over.
But it is a pity that it has taken the common sense approach of a mother who lost her young daughter in tragic circumstances to tell the government the direction it needed to take on this issue.”
Mrs Payne – who is recovering after suffering a brain aneurysm before Christmas – published her report calling for the new service after spending nine months speaking to victims and witnesses and studying front-line services.
The empire building scarcely missed a beat, for guess what came next? A European element! Yes, we have a ‘European Forum for Victim Services’ with yet another layer of worthies engaged in conferences, and liaising with 21 organisations from 19 European Countries. Currently applying for ’structural financial support from the European Commission’.
I was going to say, this week Europe, next week the world, but they beat me to it……Still not content, at an international level – we have the grandiose ‘World Society of Victimology’ (I’m giving you links so you will know I am not making this up – you couldn’t!) and to co-ordiante all the research into ways of channeling tax payers money into consoling Shropshire farmers, we have the imaginatively named, ‘Intervict‘, an academic faculty focusing on developing victimological studies, and handing out victim ‘ologies’ to attentive students.
Coming soon – the Inter-Galectic Alien Victim Support Service.
Poor, poor, Tax payer, I wonder whether anyone will offer to counsel him on his sad loss? I suspect he just has to rely on the old fashioned stiff upper lip.
- Tweets that mention Championing Victimhood. — Topsy.com
- January 31, 2010 at 07:28