The Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke has said that convicts will not be allowed to make claims from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme under proposed new rules.
The fund was set up to help victims of crime, and now changes will be made to ensure that those committing crimes cannot benefit from the scheme.
Mr Clarke has previously been accused by his own party of taking too soft a line on criminal justice. In response he will also unveil a £50m scheme designed to ensure that criminals make greater payments to their victims.
The Government estimates that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme has so far paid out around £75m to some 20,000 criminals in the past ten years. In one case, a convicted rapist was awarded £62,000 for a serious injury which resulted in him losing a leg.
Under the proposed reforms, anyone with an unspent criminal conviction will be banned from making any claim to the scheme.
However, there will be some exemptions, such as if a prisoner is injured when helping a prison officer who is under attack, or for those convicted of minor offences such as shoplifting. All other criminals who are injured will have to make a claim through the civil justice system, rather than via the compensation fund. Once a conviction is spent the new rules will not apply.
The new funding from criminals will be raised in three new ways. Those who commit crimes will now have to pay their victims a surcharge.
This provision already exists for those who are fined in court, but this will now be extended to those who are jailed or given community punishment orders. Motoring fines are also set to increase for the first time in ten years.
Finally, prisoners will pay a contribution towards the running of victims’ services through deductions from any pay they earn in prison and whilst on release.
Read more on the story (The Guardian)
Compensation for victims of crime (FindLaw)
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