Scotland

New service launched to help families of murder victims

Moira Jones Image copyright The Moira Fund
Image caption Moira Jones was murdered in Glasgow's Queen's Park on 28 May 2008

A new service is being launched to help families of murder victims with counselling and arranging funerals.

Delivered by the charity Victim Support Scotland (VSS), it is receiving government funding of £1.2m.

It will offer support to relatives bereaved through murder or culpable homicide.

The service was set up after pressure from the Moira Fund, founded by Bea Jones, the mother of Moira Jones who was murdered in Glasgow in 2008.

The Support for Families Bereaved by Crime service (SFBC) is designed to support families, including when they have to attend court, handle the media and arrange finances.

'Heartbroken and traumatised'

Bea Jones said she was pleased that the service - established after the Moira Fund published a report in 2017 highlighting what it said was a "service provision gap - would be able to help heartbroken, traumatised Scottish families now and in the future.

She said: "Strong links are in place to ensure a streamlined system of help is available to desperate families who need much support and will surely benefit from feeling cared for at the very worst time of their lives."

Kate Wallace, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, said: "I am pleased we have reached this point in the journey of delivering this much-needed service to families across Scotland.

"What's been critical in the development phase is involving people like Bea, and others, who have lived through difficult and traumatic experiences.

"This has allowed us to understand their experiences and ultimately helped us to start the process of shaping better services for the future."

The service is due to be officially launched by Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf.

Victim-centred approach

It will be free, and immediate family members will be able to access it via a Police Scotland family liaison officer and other support partners.

Mr Yousaf said it was part of a movement across Scotland to take on a "victim-centred" approach, to improve the flow of information about cases and ensure victims of crime felt supported through the criminal justice system.

He said this would reduce the need for victims to have to retell their story to several different organisations as they seek help.

Image copyright THE MOIRA FUND
Image caption Former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini QC (left) and Elaine C Smith (right) with Bea and Hu Jones at a Moira Run in Queen's Park

"We want to ensure that victims' interests are at the heart of our criminal justice system and that it is fair, accessible and efficient for all," he said.

"It will ensure that all families affected by homicide have a dedicated case worker to provide support and information at every stage of the criminal justice process, helping to reduce distress and the potential for retraumatisation."

Moira Jones was murdered by Slovak Marek Harcar as she returned home near Queen's Park on Glasgow's Southside on 28 May 2008.

Her body was found in bushes and crucial evidence came from the CCTV camera on a passing bus as Harcar forced her into the park.

Her parents, Bea and Hu, set up the Moira Fund to provide grants to bereaved families across the UK, with donations designed to help with funeral expenses and providing clothes for attending court.

It has organised charity events and an annual fun run through the park which has been attended by the former Lord Advocate, Dame Elish Angiolini who prosecuted Harcar at the High Court in Glasgow.

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