Categorized | Criminal Justice

Victims’ support services

Victims’ support services

Last Monday Justice Secretary Ken Clarke went to the Commons to announce a consultation exercise on plans to improve the way the criminal justice system deals with victims of crime. He said: “Proper protection and support for those who have suffered at the hands of criminals is a fundamental part of a civilised justice system, yet ours is falling short in some respects.”

The planned shake-up will see the ending of payments for minor injuries. Some estimates are that more than 17,000 violent crime victims each year will be excluded entirely from the criminal injuries compensation scheme under the proposals, and many crime victims who suffer more serious injuries will face reductions of up to 25% in their awards. Mr Clarke announced a clampdown on convicted criminals being able to claim compensation for injuries and psychological damage, saying it was “perverse” they were able to do so. Over the past decade, 20,000 people with criminal records have been paid more than £75m, while more than 3,000 prisoners and ex-prisoners have made claims in the last year alone.

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. Other proposals include greater funding for victims’ support services, a new statutory Victims’ Code and a simpler route of complaint and redress for victims. More voluntary victims’ organisations will have access to long-term funding.
There will be a three point scheme to raise £50m from offenders towards victims. Fines for motoring offences will be increased. All offenders will pay a victim surcharge, extended to cover those who receive prison terms or community orders. And there will be deductions from prisoners’ pay from work in prison and on day release. Clarke said: “I believe that the proposals that we are setting out today will ensure that victims’ services are on a more sensible and sustainable footing, and will go a long way to putting right the failings of the past.”

For Labour, Sadiq Khan said: “This Government’s policy on law and order is all over the place. The way they treat victims of crime is a prime example. Over the past 20 months, their policies on bail, sentencing, the chief coroner, domestic violence and rape have shown them to be out of touch with victims of crime in this country.”

Commenting on the proposals, Enid Rowlands, Chair of Victim Support, said: “A civilised society looks after those who have been preyed on by criminals. Victims deserve affordable and high quality services no matter where they are and these proposals could make that harder to achieve…These proposals could leave us with victim services that are more expensive and of lower quality. Even worse, they could leave victims in some parts of the country with little or no support at all.” And Jean Taylor, from the Merseyside based Families Fighting for Justice said: “If you have been attacked, no matter why you have been attacked you should be compensated in some way.”

If you wish to read the consultation paper ‘Getting it right for victims and witnesses’ and contribute to the consultation, go to:

https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/victims-witnesses

and follow the links.

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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