Victim Support? Say it with flowers instead

Tulips, Narcissus

Here in the UK, we have this thing called Victim Support. (I’m not going to credit it with any kind of gravitas by using ‘ we have a service’). Think ambulance-chasers, dishing out lukewarm sympathy rather than the promise of compensation.

This Saturday morning, at 9:30 BST, I was roused by the sound of a call to my land line. You will, modern reader, know how rarely the ‘home phone’ rings these days, with the mobile phone having long since eclipsed it as our chief means of communication. So, the phone rarely rings, and when it does, it’s usually a very close friend or family. It was, however, no such thing.

All my fault, I guess. I’d not anticipated that, when reporting to the police last Monday’s picked pocket in Prêt a Manger (yes, say that when pissed), I’d be receiving a call other than to say “Mr S, we have good news — we’ve found your £100, credit cards, leather wallet and innumerable bits of paper with notes and phone numbers on them”. Nope, no such luck.

Instead, a rather hesitant voice, chosen specifically for its blandness, asked querulously if I were who I am.

“Err – hello, is that Simon Saunders?”.

“Yes, it is. Can I help?”

“Err, yes. This is Clive [not his real name, but as good as] from Victim Support. I understand you were pick-pocketed on Monday of last week.”

“Yes, that’s right, I was. In Prêt a Manger on Euston Rd.” I realised that the police had passed them my number. I hadn’t, of course, been asked.

“The police passed us your number. I’m calling to see how you are”.

My eyes widened slightly. Calling to see how I am? “I’m just fine, thank you”, I replied. Other, of course, than having been got out bed by some wally at 9:30 on a Saturday morning. “My wallet, however, is gone forever, and I’ve spent hours, this past week, in police stations, various banks and the Kings Cross branch of Prêt a Manger. CCTV footage isn’t available in the café, only for collection by the police at some as yet unknown future date.”

“Err” said Clive. “Were the police helpful?” This was definitely, unquestionably the wrong question.

“No, actually, they weren’t. After I’d waited 20 minutes at West End Central police station, I spent another 50 minutes having my crime report taken by a policewoman whose dead slow, hunt ‘n peck typing was rendered almost stationary by banter with a cute colleague.” Somehow, I knew Clive wasn’t really interested in this detail. “Are you taking notes?” I said this politely.

“No — this isn’t part of our job, to record complaints about the police.” Clive’s delivery was swift, unerring.

“So why did you ask if the police were helpful?” I could feel my blood starting to heat up.

“Err….I was just asking. There’s actually nothing we can do.”

The red rag.”Exactly. There’s nothing you can do. So why have you called?”

“Err”, said Clive. “I think we should end this call now.” Upon which he hung up.

Victim Support, eh? Weirdly, I was less annoyed at having my pocket picked — within a minute of paying for an expensive bread-free sandwich (yup, it’s true), and an equally exorbitant soy latte — than I was by the attentions of the witless Clive.

As I tried to say to him shortly before he hung up, Victim Support is a really great way of putting people off reporting anything whatsoever to the police, n’est-ce pas?

5 replies
  1. Joy says:

    So the British govt. took the custom of asking how someone is doing while not actually caring about the response, institutionalized it, and hired people to do it as a career?

  2. Mary Saunders says:

    Aversion therapy strikes again. I now believe it is involuntary and not a plot. The system has factored in how to enervate and irritate one into self preservation by default. Say nothing, raise no waves, let it all happen.

    At least it was a painless pocket picking……

  3. Annie says:

    Firstly, I would like to point out that Victim Support is not a government organisation – it’s a charity. I can understand your annoyance at being woken at 9.30am on a Saturday, but surely the fact that there are people out there giving up their time to reach out to victims of crime has to be a good thing? I’m sure that your apparently aggressive reaction to this call really made the day of someone who is selflessly offering emotional support to strangers that they will never meet and never receive any recognition from. If you don’t want people to call on your landline, do not give it out. The police will have notified you about Victim Support’s role when you reported the crime.

  4. says:

    Dear Annie,

    Thank you for your reply. To clarify:-

    1. The police did not inform me, when they asked for both my telephone numbers, that they would be passed to Victim Support. I was not offered a choice by the (as documented) entirely unhelpful police.

    2. The entire point of the above post is that the caller, on his mission of “selflessness” offered no emotional support whatsoever. When I failed to deliver the desired response to his question “were the police helpful?” he was wholly uninterested.

    I assume from your own “apparently aggressive” response that either you, or someone you care for, is working for Victim Support (which, incidentally, does receive government funding) – and hopefully offering an ear less deaf than the one I thought I was addressing.


  5. jack says:

    Now, Richard, I can see you are still in denial about your anger issue. I think we should resume therapy ASAP. Meanwhile, remember that pointlessness is never a good reason to get angry, even if it is stealing your time.

    My assistant will contact you to fix an appointment. We got your number from the police.

    Dr. Geep

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