Press release

Prisoners to pay back victims

Up to £1million a year is to be seized from prisoners’ pay packets and used to fund victim support services.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Under the Prisoners’ Earnings Act, which comes into force today, low-risk prisoners who work outside of prison to prepare for their eventual release will see up to 40 per cent of their net weekly wages over £20 go to services which support victims of crime.

This is the first step towards ensuring prisoners make financial reparation to victims and communities.
The money will go to the national charity Victim Support and pay for new support services, helping victims to recover from the trauma of crime and forcing criminals to take responsibility for the harm they caused.

The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Nick Herbert, said:

‘For too long the financial burden of repairing the damage done by crime has fallen to the taxpayer alone.  By bringing into force the Prisoners’ Earnings Act, this Government is making a significant and overdue change.

‘Making offenders pay financial reparation to victims will require them to take personal responsibility for their crimes and go some way towards making redress to victims through the funding of crucial support services.’

Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said:

‘Helping victims to find their strength after crime is our number one priority. We will use the money from this initiative to deliver real, practical support for victims and communities.

‘Getting prisoners working and developing workplace skills should help them on the path to reform. This will be very much welcomed by victims as they are united in wanting offenders to stop committing crimes.’

Implementing the Prisoners’ Earnings Act is the latest stage in Government action to reform the criminal justice system to make punishment more effective and reduce reoffending. This includes making prisons place of hard work, getting criminals off drugs and alcohol, toughening community sentences and making offenders pay back to victims and communities for their crimes.

On average, prisoners working inside prisons earn less than £10 per week, working as prison cleaners, cooks or in prison workshops. However, up to 500 offenders who have passed a rigorous risk assessment, work outside the prison gates to help prepare for their release. It is hoped their contributions through the PEA will earn up to £1million a year.

In July, the Government announced that families bereaved by homicide would receive additional funding - as recommended in the Victims’ Commissioner’s review into the needs of bereaved families. From today, peer support groups for those bereaved by homicide, can apply to receive part of a new £150,000 fund.

This is in addition to £2.25 million being invested in the Homicide Service and in specialist, voluntary organisations which provide bereaved families with a dedicated caseworker, emotional support and practical help to cope with housing, benefits and funeral arrangements.

Notes to editors

  1. PEA revenue will be used by Victim Support to provide more support for victims of crime. Victim Support is currently considering a number of potential projects.
  2. 40% of prisoners’ net (after tax, National Insurance and any court-ordered or child support payments) earnings over £20 per week will be deducted and used for services which support victims of crime.
  3. Legislation before Parliament (clause 103 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill) would give powers to deduct from payments to prisoners more widely, such as those working inside prisons, so that they to can make reparation to victims and communities.
  4. Prisoners working outside of prison, unlike those working inside, are afforded the protection of the National Minimum Wage.
  5. Employers will not administer the Act. Instead, the National Offender Management Service will take the PEA deductions and pay prisoners the remainder.
  6. Application procedures for the new peer support fund
  7. For more information, call the Ministry of Justice press office on 0203 334 3536.
Published 26 September 2011