The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Criminal Law: Prisoners should pay victim support out of wages

The Ministry of Justice today announced the introduction of the Prisoners' Earnings Act which will take money from prisoners' wages to be paid into victim support funds.

Prisoners who are considered low-risk and are permitted to work outside of prison will have up to 40% of their weekly wages over £20 paid into the national charity Victim Support, which helps victims recover from their experiences.

The MoJ estimates this will provide up to £1 million a year, meaning that less money will be required from taxpayers.

Minister for Policing Nicke Herbert said: "For too long the financial burden of repairing the damage done by crime has fallen to the taxpayer alone. By bringing into force the Prisoners' Earnings Act, this Government is making a significant and overdue change.

"Making offenders pay financial reparation to victims will require them to take personal responsibility for their crimes and go some way towards making redress to victims through the funding of crucial support services."

Currently, there are few prisoners in the UK who earn more than £20 a week. This means that there will not be many facing the deduction. However, this could well change should Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's plans to make prisoners work a 40-hour week come into force.

Javed Khan, the chief executive of Victim Support, said: "Helping victims to find their strength after crime is our number one priority. We will use the money from this initiative to deliver real, practical support for victims and communities.

"Getting prisoners working and developing workplace skills should help them on the path to reform. This will be very much welcomed by victims as they are united in wanting offenders to stop committing crimes."

The MoJ said that the Prisoners' Earnings Act is part of the Government's wider plans to improve the criminal justice system. As well as introducing prisoners to real work, they also aim to prevent reoffending by getting criminals off drugs and alcohol, to make prisoners take responsibility for their actions by paying back victims and by handing out tougher community sentences.

Related links:
Read more on the story (Ministry of Justice)
Read 'What the prison service does' (FindLaw)
Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)