Crime victims' cash faces cut
COMPENSATION to crime victims which totalled nearly £6 million in Devon and Cornwall last year is set to be slashed under government changes.
The cost-cutting reforms will see pay-outs for minor injuries scrapped.
The Government says the tax-payer funded Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme has to "…recognise the current challenging financial climate".
As a result of the revamp, victims who suffer 'temporary' injuries each year, such as fractured ribs or a dislocated jaw, will lose out on compensation altogether.
Those with more serious injuries, including minor brain damage, a fractured skull or damage to the retina, will see their compensation cut.
The move will save around £50 million a year from the £200 million annual cost.
A total of £5.6 million was awarded in compensation Devon and Cornwall in 2011/12. Based on the expected 25 per cent saving this would be cut by £1.4 million.
Labour has accused the Government of putting its deficit reduction plan before the needs of the victims of crime.
But the Government says the revised scheme will protect injury payments to those with the most serious injuries, as well as the bereaved and all rape victims.
The amount offenders contribute to victim support will be significantly increased.
And in most cases criminals with unspent convictions will no longer be able to claim compensation.
The changes are due to come into force in September.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We are focusing Criminal injuries Compensation Scheme payments on innocent victims of crime with the most serious injuries. As part of this we are putting a stop to criminals claiming, who in the last decade have taken more than £75 million from the scheme.
"We believe the most important thing is for victims of crime to have the support they need to recover and for offenders to take responsibility for the damage they have done. This is why we are generating an extra £50 million from criminals to pay for extra victim support services."
Labour said the changes would exclude 42 per cent of victims of violent crime from being eligible for compensation.
Speaking when the plans went before peers in July, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Labour's leader in the Lords, said: "Victims do not choose to be victims. They have suffered through no fault of their own and it would seem that in proposing the draft Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 the Government are putting deficit reduction before humanity."