Nearly 500 prisoners who work in various communities will have their wages cut and the money given to help support victims of crime, according to the Ministry of Justice. This will represent a 40% cut in pay that could raise £1 million per year for victim support.
This move will be enforced from today and is anticipated to make criminals begin to take personal responsibility for the crimes they commit. In addition to those in communities, ministers hope to look at those criminals who work inside jails by using new legislation to do so.
About 40% of the wages will be given away for those higher than £20 a week, after taking out tax, National Insurance, and either child support or court-ordered payments if they exist. This is now to be called the Prisoners’ Earnings Act. However, many would not see any deduction, as the average earnings are only £10 a week.
According to policing minister, Nick Herbert, “For too long the financial burden of repairing the damage done by crime has fallen to the taxpayer alone. Making offenders pay financial reparation to victims will require them to take personal responsibility for their crimes and go some way towards making redress to victims through the funding of crucial support services.”
However, Juliet Lyons, director of the Prison Reform Trust, urged policymakers to ensure that prisoners were not deterred from working under the new plans, pointing out that repeat offenses could be caused if people leave prison with nothing.
Chief executive of Victim Support, Javed Khan, argued that the money would help to bring support for both victims and communities. He maintained that the skills developed through working should be enough to help offenders to avoid future offences. Louise Casey, Victims’ Commissioner, agreed, highlighting the fact that victims want the criminals to face punishment for their crimes, saying the amount should be extended further.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said last year that prisoners in both England and Wales should work 40 hours each week. More recently, he maintained that the government will be planning an expansion of work in prison industries in order to create jobs for inmates and begin their reform using more work.