The relatives of murder victims will be the first to benefit from a body to help people afflicted by crime, Jack Straw has said.
In a speech to the Royal Society of Arts, the Justice Secretary announced that the National Victims Agency will begin work in March before its official launch in April. He promised that the service would make victims a "core function" of the criminal justice system rather than an "optional add-on".
The aim is that for the first time, victims will be given support from the moment they report a crime or anti-social behaviour until the moment they say they no longer need help," he said.
"The National Victims Service will provide for anyone who has been a victim of crime and who wants assistance. If victims need help, we will be there for them."
Sara Payne, mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne and the Government's "Victims' Champion", recommended the creation of the £8 million agency in a report last year.