Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Victims of crime: increase of the victim surcharge and consultation on new Code for victims

leave a comment »

In March 2020, the Government announced that it was increasing the Victim Surcharge by 5%. This was done by a Statutory Instrument which came into force on 14 April 2020.

The Victim Surcharge is not a fine, but a separate charge which courts must impose on all offenders to ensure they bear some responsibility towards the cost of supporting victims. Revenue from the Surcharge contributes to the Victim and Witness Budget which is used to grant fund Police and Crime Commissioners, who commission local support services for victims. It also funds nationally commissioned support such as:

  • Rape Support centres across England and Wales,
  • the Court Based Witness Service, and
  • the National Homicide Service.

The Government estimates that the 5% increase will raise between  £1 million and £2 million a year to help fund victim support services. It will see offenders pay between £1 to £9 extra, depending on their sentence. The Government is considering whether the surcharge should be increased even further.

Also in March 2020, the Government announced a consultation on proposals to change the Victims’ Code. If brought into effect, these would change the structure of the existing Code so it becomes a clearly defined set of rights, that are easy for victims to understand and which set out the minimum level of service victims can expect from criminal justice agencies.

The proposals focus on a number of key areas:

  • raising awareness and accessibility;
  • providing clearer information on victims’ rights to access practical and emotional support;
  • strengthening communication and taking account of the victim’s preferences; and
  • increasing the voice of the victim by providing more flexibility in the Victim Personal Statement process.

The Consultation ran until the end of May 2020; the outcome is still awaited.

For the announcement on the increase in the victim surcharge, see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/criminals-made-to-pay-more-to-fund-victim-support

More information on the Consultation on the Victims Code is at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/victim-policy/consultation-on-improving-the-victims-code/

 

Written by lwtmp

July 8, 2020 at 4:49 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: