Criminals to be denied compensation

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The Independent Online

Criminals who become victims of violent crime will be denied the right to compensation other than in exceptional circumstances, Ken Clarke will announce today.

The Justice Secretary will also set out proposals to make offenders contribute more towards compensating victims. Mr Clarke wants a five-fold increase in the amount taken from the perpetrators of crime, from £10m to £50m.

In the past 10 years, about 20,000 claimants with criminal records have been paid compensation totalling more than £75m. A change in the law will mean that almost no one with an unspent criminal conviction will be allowed any compensation. The Justice Secretary is also expected to tell motorists that the cost of fixed penalty notices is to go up.

Mr Clarke is facing the same pressure as other ministers to cut costs. He has focused mainly on the growing number of compensation claims. The huge increase in such cases is attributed to "no-win, no-fee" arrangements. These have pushed up costs because lawyers charge extra in successful cases to recoup the fees they do not receive from cases they lose. Mr Clarke's Legal Aid Bill – being debated in the Lords today – would reduce costs by making claimants pay fees out of their compensation awards.