Straw wants National Victims Service

By Alex Stevenson

Jack Straw has unveiled plans for a National Victims Service amid a fighting speech to the Labour party conference.

The justice secretary defended Labour’s record in government as he told delegates: “You never write off Labour.”

He said the Human Rights Act, Freedom of Information, devolution and independent national statistics had all formed part of Labour’s “‘quiet’ constitutional revolution”.

Speaking in Brighton at Labour’s last conference before the coming general election, Mr Straw sought to demonstrate the party still has “policies for the future” – like the National Victims Service, which would work in parallel to the Probation Service.

“This service will take some years before it is fully operational but we are going to make a start now,” Mr Straw said.

“I’ve had to make a lot of economies in my department but I have found the money to get this going.”

Mr Straw said £2 million of funding would be made available for this year, rising to £8.5 million this year.

Addressing the spending cuts issue directly, he said Labour would not “shirk” – but would not cut key public services either.

He added: “In contrast, for the Tories, public service is almost a term of abuse.”

Mr Straw was highly critical of the Conservatives in his impassioned speech. He attacked shadow chancellor George Osborne’s “ghoulish enthusiasm for wielding the knife” and contrasted this with his party’s plans for “savings when we have to”.