The growing recognition that social problems are multi-faceted and need to be tackled in a way that cuts across traditional departmental boundaries has heralded the advent of joined-up government.Yet this new emphasis does not appear to have permeated the provision of public services in Northern Ireland in their response to the increasingly pervasive social problem of communal violence perpetrated by paramilitaries against those suspected of committing crime within their own communities. This article examines the response of governmental and non-governmental agencies to this issue and questions whether victims of violence could benefit from an integrated approach.A deep suspicion and mistrust of the statutory authorities and the ‘undeserving’ character of victims currently militate against a joined-up approach.
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Victims of violence in Northern Ireland are faced with disjointed public sector and NGO responses to their needs, largely as a result of ignorance or indifference to the problems they encounter. This paper attempts to stimulate a public policy debate around the evidence of the needs of victims, demonstrate how ineffective services are in meeting those needs, and what should be done to address these problems.