Prisoners have been forced to pay over three quarters of a million pounds towards helping victims this year, thanks to a new law that literally makes them pay for their crimes.
Introduced just a year ago, the Prisoners’ Earnings Act takes money out of working prisoners’ pockets and puts it back into vital support services - like providing counselling for a victim of traumatic crime or fixing locks and alarms on a vulnerable pensioner’s home.
Announcing the total raised so far, Victims Minister Helen Grant said:
“We want victims to get the support they actually need, and we want criminals to shoulder much more of the burden of paying for it. As a result of our ambitious reforms, criminals will pay as much as £50 million more each year into victims’ services, and we are changing the way this money is put to good use, so it provides services designed to fit individuals’ needs.”
Money taken from prisoner’s earnings is given straight to Victim Support - where it is used to provide practical and emotional support to victims of crime.
One couple to benefit were Mr and Mrs Castlehouse - in their mid-80s and in poor health.
In June 2012, the couple were targeted by burglars. Both Mr and Mrs Castlehouse were at home when the intruders broke in, leaving them feeling extremely shaken and vulnerable. The trauma they suffered caused their health to deteriorate still further.
Victim Support were able to help secure the property, by fitting door and window alarms, and a ‘dummy’ CCTV camera. They also intervened as the Housing Office were slow to fit additional lighting where the burglars had gained entry.
Thanks to the money from prisoners earnings, Mr & Mrs Castlehouse can once again feel safe in their home. Mrs Castlehouse said: “The intervention and assistance of Victim Support has been a godsend. We are more than grateful.”