Criminals to pay victim surcharge

From 1 September offenders will no longer be able to serve extra prison time to avoid paying towards victim support services.

Womans Hands In HandcuffsThe Victims’ Minister Mike Penning has announced that criminals will pay up to £1.5 million more per year towards the victim surcharge, created to help victims recover from the traumatic experience of crime.

This includes victims of rape, domestic violence, families suffering the loss of a loved one by murder and fatal road traffic crimes. The victim surcharge provides a way of making offenders pay towards the cost of helping those affected by crime move on with life as much as possible.

The victim surcharged was first introduced in 2007 at a flat rate of £15. In October 2012, this sum increased and extended to a maximum charge of £120 to reflect the seriousness of the crime. Then in July 2013, Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) were increased by £10 with the additional revenue going towards victims services. As a result, the victim surcharge has managed to raise around £51 million since 2010.

The new plan is to extend the surcharge so that those given a custodial sentence in the magistrates’ court will also have to pay. Previously, there was an option to give offenders in the magistrates court extra days in prison rather than ordering them to pay the surcharge, but the government have now prevented this through introducing the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. This Act will ensure that offenders pay.

The new changes will come into force from 1 September, making those sentenced to 6 months or less, pay £80, while those sentenced to between 6 and 12 months will be ordered to pay £100 in the magistrates’ court. This reform is expected to apply to 43,000 cases per year.

Minister Mike Penning was keen to share the difference that the victim surcharge is currently making in the lives of the victims it supports - “The money being raised through the surcharge is already being put to use in some ground breaking ways to help people move on with their lives as much as possible. I am pleased we are bringing in these changes and raising more money for victims.”

This reform is just one in a number of changes introduced by the coalition government in order to raise more money to support victims of crime. It is predicted that there will be a potential total budget of up to £100 million next year, double the amount of the Ministry of Justice's previous spending of around £50 million per year. With this increase in funds, more schemes are hoped to be set up in line with the local need in that area, specifically aimed at supporting victims when they need it most. 

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