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Government Support: United Kingdom

Government Assistance to Victims

The UK believes it is important to assist the victims of terrorism, and to provide them and their families with support to cope with their loss and grief.

The UK recognises the important role that victims and survivor networks play in countering terrorism, including by bravely speaking out against violent and extremist ideologies.

The UK takes a whole of Government approach to emergencies and considers many aspects of assistance to victims of terrorism within that framework. The main Government Departments with responsibilities for the emergencies and the victims of terrorism are detailed below.

Cabinet Office, Civil Contingencies Secretariat  

The Cabinet Office is responsible for the coordination of the central government response to emergencies. It has the ownership of two cross-government guidance documents:

“Identifying people who are vulnerable in a crisis: guidance for emergency planners and responders”. This guidance is intended for the development of local action plans for identifying groups of people who may be vulnerable in an emergency. Full details are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/identifying-people-who-are-vulnerable-in-a-crisis-guidance-for-emergency-planners-and-responders

“Central Government’s Concept of Operations”. This guidance sets out the UK arrangements for responding to and recovering from emergencies. Full details are available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-central-government-s-concept-of-operations

Home Office, Office for Security and Counter Terrorism  

The Home office is responsible for the initial operational response to a major or complex incident, including acts of terrorism. It also leads on communicating with the victims of the “7/7” terrorist attacks that took place in London on 7 July 2005.

Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)

MOJ and CICA are responsible for support for victims of terrorism after the initial operational response. This includes support in the criminal justice system and for the management of compensation schemes for victims. T

Department of Health (DH)  

DH provides guidance to the National Health Service and local authorities on how to plan for responding to the psychological and mental health needs of victims of emergencies. Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/215643/dh_125842.pdf

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)  

For a major incident on UK territory that impacted on foreign nationals, FCO’s role is to ensure that foreign embassies were signposted to the correct sources of information. The FCO’s role in overseas incidents takes a number of forms including: provision and maintenance of travel advice via FCO website; consular assistance overseas including assistance with evacuation in extreme circumstances; and, signposting to further sources of information. The Foreign Secretary is responsible for the designation of terrorist attacks for the purposes of the Victims of Overseas Terrorism Scheme 2012

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

DCLG is responsible for coordinating and supporting local authorities in their role as leaders of the humanitarian assistance response to a terrorist attack.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)  

In the event of localised incidents, such as those related to terrorism, DWP staff are made available to support the local recovery. This support depends on local need but could include staffing Humanitarian Assistance Centres or attending local support centres to provide information about the types of services that could be accessed by those affected. DWP provides social welfare that promotes independence and signposts customers to any emergency assistance available through local authorities. Additionally, DWP administers benefits that may be available to the victims of terrorism such as Bereavement Benefits and Funeral Payments.

Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)  

DCMS developed cross-government guidance called “Humanitarian Assistance strategic guidance – Building capability to look after people affected by emergencies (2011)”. Full report available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/61220/final-humanitarian-assistance-guidance.pdf

DCMS, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Cabinet Office, also produced guidance on how to establish Humanitarian Assistance Centres – Humanitarian Assistance in Emergencies: Non-statutory guidance on establishing Humanitarian Assistance Centres. The guidance is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/humanitarian-assistance-in-emergencies

Legal Resources available to Victims

Terrorist attacks within the UK

Support for victims of acts of terrorism within the UK is covered by the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime that came into force on 10 December 2013. The Code gives victims of crime, including terrorism, entitlements from the criminal justice system and tailors services to individual need so they get the right support at the right time. It also includes a section dedicated to people under 18, their parents and guardians. 

The UK Government wanted to give victims a stronger voice in the criminal justice system. That is why the Victims’ Code entitles victims to make a Victim Personal Statement to leave no doubt about the impact of crime on the victim. The Code also includes an complaints process.

Full details of the code are available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-code-of-practice-for-victims-of-crime

Victims of Terrorism in Northern Ireland can apply to the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland. Details are available at: http://www.dojni.gov.uk/index/compensation-services.htm

Terrorist attacks outside the UK

In 2012 the UK Government introduced the first ever state funded compensation scheme for British victims of overseas terrorism, the Victims of Overseas Terrorism Scheme 2012 (VOTCS). This scheme was launched in November 2012 and places those affected by overseas terrorism on a par with victims affected by terrorism in the UK. Full details are available at:

Collaboration with other Organisations

The UK Government consults with the public and relevant interested parties when considering support for the victims of terrorism.

For 2014/15 the UK Government has agreed to provide a grant of £150,000 to the UK-based organisation Foundation for Peace for its ‘Survivors for Peace’ programme which brings together victims and survivors of terrorism and political violence to assist them in addressing trauma they have faced and help them find normal lives.

i) Non-governmental organizations or community-based organizations

• British Red Cross - http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Emergency-response/Relief-fund-for-UK-victims-of-terrorism-abroad

• Victim Support - https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/

• Foundation for Peace- http://www.foundation4peace.org/

ii) Regional and/or multi-lateral effort(s) to address solidarity with victims of terrorism and/or support the rehabilitation of victims of terrorism

The UK has opted-in to the European Union (EU) Victims’ Directive. The directive promotes improved standards on the rights, support and protection available to victims of crime across the EU.

The UK has actively contributed to discussions on support for victims of terrorism in multilateral fora, including the UN and the Global Counter Terrorism Forum (GCTF). The UK continues to commend the GCTF’s Madrid Declaration on the Victims of Terrorism.

iiI) Additional on-line resources

A number of guidance documents relating to Humanitarian Assistance matters can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/humanitarian-assistance-in-emergencies

The UK Government supports individuals to minimise their own risk from terrorism.

To minimise the risk to individuals from terrorism in the UK, the UK Government runs both national and local terrorism awareness programmes and publishes terrorism threat levels which are available online at: 

https://www.gov.uk/terrorism-national-emergency

To minimise the risk from terrorism to British nationals abroad, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes online guidance available at:

https://www.gov.uk/reduce-your-risk-from-terrorism-while-abroad