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Payments of £5m paid out in Hampshire last year
11:11am Sunday 2nd September 2012 in News
COMPENSATION payments to crime victims that reached £5 million in Hampshire last year are set to be slashed from next month.
Payments for minor injuries are set to be scrapped under controversial cost-cutting reforms.
A charity for victims has told the Daily Echo that it wants to see the compensation scheme protected from cuts.
But ministers say the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme has become too expensive and needs to be scaled back to help with the deficit reduction plans. But Labour has said it is putting “deficit reduction before humanity”.
The shake-up has been passed by the House of Lords and is set to come into force on September 30 following final discussions when Parliament returns next week.
New figures from the Commons library show how payouts have increased in the past decade. In 2001/02, just £2 million in compensation was paid out in the Hampshire police force area. Over the decade, the total has passed £37 million.
The compensation scheme processes applications free of charge, with awards ranging from £1,000 to £500,000.
As a result of the changes, people who suffer ‘temporary’ injuries, such as fractured ribsw, will lose out on compensation, while payouts for some more serious injuries will be reduced.
Ministers pointed to another of the changes, which will deny access to the taxpayer-funded scheme for people with a criminal record.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said payouts totalling £75 million had been made to criminals in the past decade.
And it said payouts in the most serious cases would be protected.
An MoJ spokesman said: “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.”
But the overhaul has been criticised by USDAW, the union that represents shop workers, which says its members often make use of the scheme when they are attacked.
The union said nearly half of all victims currently eligible for compensation will receive nothing, while over a third would see their compensation “severely reduced”.
Paul Fawcett, Victim Support’s Head of Communications and Marketing, said they recognised the need for reform.
He added: “We think the criminal injuries compensation scheme does need reforming to become sustainable and to make sure that victims get their awards more quickly.”