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Justice for victims

Comment 7th July 2010

I wish to suggest repealing the legislation which allows convicted criminals to appeal against     compensation orders awarded by the courts.

Having been a victim of crime, I was appalled when I was told that the offender, who had been given 6 months in prison for 5 offences of receiving goods by deception, had appealed against the compensation orders which would merely have reimbursed the victims for the amounts they had lost as a result of these crimes.

I refused to agree to this request but don't know what happened after that because I did not receive any further communication from the court. The offender was released from prison after about 2 months without paying a penny in compensation and the court refused to provide any information regarding his whereabouts to enable the victims to pursue a civil claim.     

   

Why does this matter?

Despite promises from Governments over the past 30 years that victims would be at the heart of the judicial system, I have yet to see any evidence.

My case illustrates how victims get a very raw deal, from sentences which never last the full term, to losing out financially through no fault of their own.

I believe every sentence should comprise three elements and that victims should be allowed some input. The first is punishment. This should be appropriate to the seriousness of the crime and should not be shorter than the sentence imposed. In other words, 6 months means 6 months.

The second is reparation. Hit the criminals where it hurts, in their pockets. Every crime should be given a value and the criminal should be made to work to earn the amount required to reimburse the victims for their loss. Obviously, the more serious the crime, the longer the criminal has to work to pay off the debt. In no circumstances should criminals be allowed to profit from their crimes.

The third element is rehabilitation. More emphasis must be given to ensuring that criminals do not reoffend. If the authorities are not satisfied on the issue then the offender should not be released back into society. Law abiding citizens have a right to protection. 

   

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