MERSEYSIDE's police and crime commissioner has welcomed a Ministry of Justice decision that murder victims' families bereaved before 2010 will continue to receive vital support services.

Jane Kennedy had condemned government ministers after it was revealed in March that funding for support services for those bereaved before April 2010 would be axed.

Ms Kennedy branded the move as "shockingly cruel" and joined forces with  organisations that currently deliver the service, the Homicide Action Group, and colleagues around the country to urge ministers to reconsider their decision.

In the wake of fierce criticism, Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims Minister Damian Green promised to review the decision and the Ministry of Justice announced it will continue to fund support for these vulnerable families.

Ms Kennedy said: "I warmly welcome this change of heart by the Minister. This was a cruel decision that would have left extremely vulnerable families without the support they need.

"All families affected by murder and manslaughter deserve to have the best standard of care and support.

"These families need both long-term emotional support and advocacy through the criminal justice system and it is vital their serious and on-going needs are addressed.

"Victims of crime, particularly the most serious of all crimes, should be at the centre of everything we do – they deserve nothing less.”

The Homicide Action Group is a network of 13 small to medium-sized organisations, providing a fully-inclusive service to all families.

Included in the group are MAMAA UK, Support After Murder and Manslaughter Merseyside, the National Victims' Association and Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse.

The MoJ confirmed current funding arrangements for those groups will be extended until March 31 next year at its current level.

It will then invite revised bids from the organisations for the period from April 1 to October 31, 2015.

Chairperson of MAMAA Amanda Everitt said: "MAMAA are delighted that the MoJ have made a decision to continue to fund support services to those bereaved by homicide pre-2010.

"We hope that when grant funding is announced that allows the small and medium organisations currently offering support to this crime victim group to continue their services.

"We would like to thank Merseyside PCC for her prompt and vociferous support with this issue."

In a letter to PCCs across the country, Damian Green wrote: "I remain committed to ensuring that those families bereaved by homicide prior to 2010 will continue to have access to the necessary support.

"I hope you will see that the arrangements I have set out will meet this commitment,"