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Last Updated: Monday, 12 January, 2004, 19:32 GMT
Speeding drivers face victim levy
Speeding car
Motorists fined for speeding might have to pay an extra fine
Motorists convicted of speeding may have to pay compensation for victims, the government has proposed.

The plan, published on Monday, is one of several changes to the funding of victim support services.

Motorists given a prison term or suspended sentence would pay 30 to a Home Office fund providing victim and witness compensation and support.

Those fined for speeding or driving without insurance would face a levy of 5 or 10.

Publishing the consultation paper, Home Secretary David Blunkett said: "The effect of crime on the lives of its victims can be devastating.

"A lump sum of compensation alone does not repair this damage, and the current scheme does not enable us to provide the wide range of support needed."

It simply isn't fair and it isn't right
Mark Leech
Editor of Prisons' Handbook

He said a victims' fund would put more money into services such as practical support, information to victims of rape and sexual offences, road traffic accident victims and those who have been bereaved as a result of crime.

Parking fines would be exempt from the new levy.

Other on-the-spot fines, such as being drunk in public or making a hoax 999 call, would also carry the extra charge.

Home Office minister Baroness Scotland told BBC News 24 that "a lot of people out there, if asked, would not mind paying an additional 5 or 10 pounds if it is going to go towards the victims of crime getting the sort of counselling, the help and wider support they need".

The surcharges would raise 28m a year if they were all collected, but with an expected 60% enforcement rate they would raise just under 17m, the Home Office paper said.

'Victimless crimes'

Most of the proposals apply in England and Wales only.

Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook, said: "It is for the state to provide for victims of crime rather than to impose levies on people who commit speeding offences and so on - these are victimless crimes.

Once again we find the motorist as an easy source of revenue for the Treasury
C. Beaven, Stevenage, Herts

"It simply isn't fair and it isn't right."

He said the scheme would not work in practice.

"Increasing the financial burden on offenders isn't the answer because many of them get into crime in the first place because they have no money."

Anthony Forsyth of Victim Support said that while the charity supported moves to improve services it was "uncomfortable" with the use of income from fines.

"Our position has always been that services for victims should come out of core [government] funding," he said.

"We are uncomfortable with the idea of linking this extra income with these sorts of minor offences."

Hot spots

Schemes likely to be paid for by the new victims' fund would include a national telephone helpline for sex crime victims, better services for ethnic minority victims, children who have been targeted by crime, and bereaved victims, the consultation paper said.

It could also target people in crime hot spots where victim support services need boosting.

Under the plans, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority would also get greater powers to recover from offenders money paid out to victims.

And the drinks industry could be asked to contribute towards the cost of compensation because of the large number of alcohol-related violent incidents.

The BBC's Mark Mardell
"Ministers say if it looks like rubbing motorists' noses in it - good"

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