Court fee 'means crime victims miss payouts'

Courts are forced to make criminals pay costs to the Government

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The Independent Online

Victims of crime are missing out on compensation because courts are forced to make criminals pay costs to the Government, campaigners have warned.

The new compulsory fee – of up to £1,000 if the defendant is found guilty –  was introduced by the former Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, to make criminals pay for the running of the courts.

The Independent revealed on Saturday that magistrates, lawyers and others are concerned that it is encouraging poor defendants to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit because the charge is then reduced to £150.

Now it has emerged that some courts are not ordering compensation because judges and magistrates know they must impose the Criminal Courts Charge (CCC) on defendants.

The Government insists that courts should set the level of compensation without considering a defendant’s ability to pay the CCC as well. Offenders are also meant to pay compensation before they pay the charge.

However, Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said courts had to deal with the situation “in the real world”.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “We have always made it absolutely clear that offenders must pay compensation orders, victims surcharge and fines before the Criminal Courts Charge.”