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Paul McDowell, chief executive of the crime reduction charity Nacro has today called on Rt Hon Ken Clarke MP, the justice secretary, to reconsider further restrictions to the criminal injuries compensation scheme.

Speaking ahead of the government’s announcement, Paul McDowell said:

‘It is right that a degree of common sense is attached to levels of compensation awarded by the criminal injuries scheme. But everyone is entitled to justice. A victim is a victim, regardless of their past.

‘We fully accept the principle that this scheme is in need of clarification and reform. Victims should not wait an unreasonable length of time for compensation and the levels of payout should be appropriate.

‘We need to see the details of today’s announcement, but the implication that we treat some victims differently from others is very worrying. For instance, someone who throws a stone, breaks a window and receives a community order will have an unspent conviction for the next five years. If that same individual is subsequently a victim themselves, for instance as a casualty in a hit and run, leaving them paralysed, are we saying that they should have no access to compensation?

‘It’s important that any compensation takes account of unspent criminal convictions and the seriousness of previous offences, but in a country where one in three adult men have a criminal conviction a blanket removal of an individual’s right to compensation goes against the values of British justice. This widens the gap between offenders and the general public, and the more obstacles we place in the way of offenders the less likely they are to move away from crime. Our focus needs to be on measures that reduce crime and prevent the creation of victims in the future. This approach to compensation will not help in that respect.’

ENDS

For further comment please contact Alex Dziedzan, media manager on 020 7840 7216 or email alex.dziedzan@nacro.org.uk

Nacro is the largest UK crime reduction charity in England and Wales. It helps over 80,000 people each year, whilst many more benefit from its work with local, regional and national partners to help reduce crime. With a team of 1,500 staff and volunteers providing services in 300 communities across the country, Nacro’s experience on the ground gives it unparalleled insights into how to reduce crime in communities and change lives for the better.