The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed almost £170,000 of funding for a support service for road crash victims and the people supporting them. The scheme, known as the National Road Victim Service (NRVS), is operated by road safety charity Brake.

The NRVS has been working with crash victims and their families for more than 20 years, with Brake saying the scheme offers a “lifeline”, including early intervention and specialist support through a quality, accredited helpline and information service. Delivered in collaboration with the police, victims are referred into the service by the constabulary and given a Brake support pack within 24 hours of a crash involving death.

Brake says the NRVS is designed to help bereaved and injured victims to deal with complex emotional, practical and procedural issues, as well as providing information, advocacy and emotional support. The service is confidential and can be supplied for as long as required.

Woman after a car accident making a phone call

This month, the DfT has confirmed it will supply Brake with £169,685 to support the delivery of the NRVS during the 2020/21 financial year. The charity claims, though, that the scheme provides an annual saving of £2.2 million to the police through time saved caring for crash victims. The service is also said to provide savings for other services, such as health and social care, by reducing the likelihood or severity of supported victims developing long-term mental or physical illness.

The NRVS is offered across the whole country, and receives funding from the Scottish Government, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and a number of Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales. It’s also funded by corporate supporters of Brake.

Police Accident sign on a road in Surrey UK

“The National Road Victim Service provides vital specialist help for victims, families and loved ones, during incredibly tragic circumstances,” said Roads Minister Baroness Vere. “I am delighted to provide funding for this essential service which provides a lifeline to people during their darkest days.”

Meanwhile Mary Williams, Brake’s chief executive, said the support was crucial as the health service tackles the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” she said.

Traffic accident Stone Cross East Sussex UK 2018

And chief constable Anthony Bangham, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, said the NRVS was a critical part of the work done by family liaison teams.

“Police officers attend thousands of serious and fatal road traffic collisions every year,” he said. “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.”