In an overhaul of victims’ services, up to £50 million would be generated from offenders to help create a speedier, more supportive system.
Criminals will be forced to fund victims’ support services and those with unspent convictions could be banned from claiming compensation, under new proposals announced by Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, today.
The planned shake-up, which is now out to public consultation, includes:
Ending payments for minor injuries such as sprained ankles, cuts and grazes and speeding up payments for serious injuries;
Greater funding for victims’ support services, better targeted at those most in need;
Stopping criminal injuries compensation payments to people with unspent convictions - totalling at least £75million over the past decade;
- Banning criminal injuries compensation payments to people who have been resident in the UK for less than 6 months (except for UK and EU/EEA nationals);
A new statutory Victims’ Code including the right for victims to make a personal statement and to request a meeting with their offender;
A simpler route of complaint and redress for victims;
Giving new Police and Crime Commissioners a key role in deciding the priorities for local victims’ services;
- Ensuring more voluntary victims’ organisations have access to long-term funding.
Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said:
‘Victims in this country must be able to rely on a justice system which punishes offenders properly and ensures that victims who suffer serious consequences are properly helped and supported.
‘Cash compensation should be better focused on blameless victims of the most serious crimes and more support for victims should be funded by offenders rather than taxpayers.
‘Victims should be supported and not be let down by the criminal justice system. They are the people to whom we have the greatest responsibility. I believe all these proposals will go a long way to putting right the failings of the past.’
The Government will also, for the first time, compensate British victims of terrorist atrocities abroad on the same basis as victims of terrorism in Britain. Those with ongoing disabilities from attacks after 2002 will also receive financial support.
The intended boost of £50m from the Victim Surcharge and financial penalties for victims’ services is in addition to the £1million that the Government aims to take from prisoners’ pay packets through the Prisoners’ Earnings Act.
Notes to editors:
For more information call the Ministry of Justice Press Office on 0203 3343555.
Each year central Government spends £66million on victim and witness support services. Offenders only contribute around £10m to this through the Victim Surcharge - currently set at £15 on all court fines which helps fund Independent Domestic Violence Advisers, Witness Care Units and voluntary support groups.
The Prisoners’ Earnings Act, which came into force last September, sees 40% of the net wages of prisoners working outside prison go to Victim Support.
Victim Personal Statements give victims an opportunity to tell criminal justice agencies, the magistrate or judge how they have been affected by a crime.