Offenders set to pay back their victims
All convicted criminals will pay towards supporting victims of crime, under new rules that come into force on Monday, justice minister Helen Grant announced today.
Currently a victim surcharge of £15 is paid by offenders who are fined on conviction. Under the new scheme, all convicted defendants, including those who are sent to prison, will have to pay a victim surcharge, that will increase the amount raised a year from around £10m to £50m.
Adults convicted of an offence committed on or after 1 October will have to pay 10% of any fine, up to a maximum of £120. Offenders given a conditional discharge will pay £15 and those given a community will have to pay £60.
Anyone given a custodial sentence has to contribute £80, £100 or £120 depending on length of sentence. The surcharge will not apply to any fixed-penalty notices, such those for motoring offences.
The money raised will go to support local organisations that have a proven track record in supporting victims, including childrens' groups and charities supporting victims of rape, domestic violence, hate crime, burglary, anti-social behaviour and other violent crime- including murder and manslaughter.
But enforcing payment may prove difficult. Statistics for January to March, published by the Ministry of Justice, revealed that the government is owed £593m in unpaid fines, including sums towards the victim surcharge.
Grant said: ‘Only one pound in every six that the government spends supporting victims of crime comes from offenders. Hardworking and innocent taxpayers pay for the rest. This balance is utterly wrong. It is something that I am determined to change.’
She added: ‘For the first time, more offenders will literally be made to pay for their crimes. And the more serious the sentence, the more they will be forced to pay. Criminals need to step up and recognise the impact their crime have on others – and they, not law-abiding taxpayers, should pay to help victims rebuild their lives.’