Skip to main content

Criminals to pay £600 toward cost of prosecution

Chris Grayling MP, our Lord Chancellor and Minister for Justice has announced that people convicted of crimes in the criminal courts (i.e. criminals) will be made to pay £600 each towards the cost of prosecuting them.

It’s a policy designed to garner headlines and popularity in the right wing press (leadership bid in the future I wonder) rather than one actually intended to bring in any money… at least I hope that’s what it is otherwise Mr Grayling really is as badly informed about the Criminal Justice System as everybody says.

The policy is wrong for two main reasons.  First, if you believe that criminals should pay the costs of bringing the case against them then why not charge them the actual costs of doing that rather than an arbitrary £600?  A simple shoplifting may well cost less to bring to court whereas a fraud could cost thousands of times that £600 figure.  So, from an ideological stand point it makes no sense.

At this point it’s worth declaring my personal opinion, which is that if a criminal has the money to pay the full costs against them then I believe that they should be charged the full cost and not an arbitrary lower or higher figure.  The point there really is if they have the money.  “You can’t get blood out of a stone” is a very true saying and brings me neatly onto my next reason for saying that this policy is a headline generator not a serious policy.

A quick Google search shows that the courts are already imposing fines, costs and compensation on criminals that will simply never be paid back.  In 2010, that figure stood at£1.3bn.  In October 2012, Francis Maud MPset out a plan to collect on the £20bn of money owed by individuals to thegovernment – the majority of that money has nothing to do with the courts.  So far as I am aware nothing has happened and there are still over a billion pounds of unpaid court fines, costs, etc owing.  In fact, so little has changed that the MOJ (Grayling’s own Ministry) wrote off £75M of unpaid fines inOctober 2013, which despite Mr Maud’s new collection strategy is a 20% increase in debts written off on the previous year and 50% on the year before that.


Currently, a guilty plea will attract a costs order of £85 and a conviction following trial can range from around £285 - £600 depending on a lot of factors.  The Government can’t collect that.  How will increasing the costs charged solve that problem?

As a final point, it’s worth contrasting this announcement with costs rules, introduced by this Government, that prevents those wrongly prosecuted (in other words the innocent) from reclaiming their costs in proving their innocence from the Government that falsely accused them.

Comments

  1. One wonders how it can be hard to collect money when the convicted must in a lot of cases be "at the crown's disposal", if that is the correct phrase?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Come off it. Most of the people who parade before us in the mags' courts are on their uppers. They can no more pay £600 toward running the courts than they can flap their arms and fly to the Moon. This scheme will create short-term good headlines and long-term bad debt.

    Already we have the absurdity of long-term prisoners - or even whole-lifers such as Ms Dennehy - being "ordered" to pay a victim surcharge - I notice some judges do not even bother to mention it. Now we are expected to tell a defendant living from hand to mouth on JSA to find £600 to help pay for the courts!

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's another clever way of wiping out the middle classes, by introducing and then ratcheting up over time. Lower classes - don't pay fines on hardship grounds. Upper classes don't even notice.....

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ched Evans

Before I begin, I will say that at around 4,500 words this is probably the longest blog I’ve ever posted but I think it’s all necessary to set the scene for this case and explain the background that has been largely ignored or airbrushed in the press. Despite its length, I have not attempted to include every little detail of either fact or law but have done my best to provide a balanced picture of the Ched Evans case, what happened and why the courts reached the decisions they did. There has been so much written about the Ched Evans case over the past weekend, much of it based on a very shaky grasp of the facts and law, that I decided I would read up about the case and weigh in (hopefully on a slightly firmer footing than most of the articles I’ve read so far).

Broadly speaking there seem to be three groups who have opinions on the case:
1.Sexual violence groups (including people describing themselves as “radical feminists”) who appear to take the view that the case is awful, the Court o…

How do the police decide whether to charge a suspect?

A question I’m often asked by clients (and in a roundabout way by people arriving at this blog using searches that ask the question in a variety of ways), is “how do the police decide whether to charge or take no further action (NFA)?”
What are the options?
Let’s have a quick think about what options are available to the police at the end of an investigation.
First, they can charge or report you for summons to attend court.  Charging means that you are given police bail and are required to attend court in person.  A summons is an order from the court for you to attend or for you to send a solicitor on your behalf.  In many cases where a person is summonsed, the court will allow you the option of entering a plea by post.
Second, you may be given a caution.  These can be a simple caution, which on the face of it is a warning not to be naughty in future, or it can be a conditional caution.  Conditions could include a requirement to pay for the cost of damage or compensation, etc.  Either…

Bid to prevent defendants knowing who accuses them of a crime

When I read The Trial by Kafka and Nineteen Eighty-Four by Orwell, I took them as warnings of how a bad justice system wrecks lives of those caught up in it. Sadly, some Members of Parliament and the House of Lords seem to view the books more as a guide to how they would like our Criminal Justice System to run. Today, I read of plans to hide the names of accusers and witnesses from defendants in a large number of cases. Victims of sexual offences, such as rape, have had the right to lifelong anonymity for many years now. This means that it is a criminal offence to publish information that will lead to a complainant being identified. A Bill currently being considered by Parliament would extend that anonymity to bar defendants and their lawyers knowing the name of the person accusing them. This would apply not only in sexual offences, as has been reported in the press, but also in violent offences.
The anonymity currently offered to victims of sexual offences is not total, the complainant…