Victims' surcharge scheme in disarray

A government scheme to force criminals to pay their victims is in disarray after forecasts suggest it will raise less than a tenth of its £16 million target.

The victims' surcharge scheme introduced in April ensures offenders pay £15 into a government fund intended to pay for counselling and other support for victims of crime.

Ministers told Parliament earlier this year that the scheme would raise £16 million a year for victims. But official figures for the first six months of the surcharge show that only £695,232 was raised, putting the scheme on course to raise only £1.39 million this year.

The introduction of the system has been so chaotic that HM Courts Service (HMCS), which administers the charge, is unable to count the number of surcharges that have been imposed. HMCS admitted in information released under the Freedom of Information Act that it "has not put any systems in place to assess the collection rate of victim surcharge".

£14m shortfall of criminal surcharge scheme (Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2007)