The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Surcharge Update

A Parliamentary answer from the then MoJ minister Lord Bach revealed some up-to-date figures on the iniquitous surcharge:-

The victims’ surcharge raised £3.8 million in 2007-08,
the year of introduction, and £8 million in 2008-09. All
of the money raised from the surcharge contributed
to direct non-financial support for victims and
witnesses of crime. Funding was committed as follows:

■ £3 million/£2.6 million/£2.6 million to fund
independent domestic violence adviser services.
■ £3 million/£2.6 million/£2.6 million to the Crown
Prosecution Service as a contribution to the cost of
providing witness care units.
■ £5.6 million/£7 million/£6.2 million to the Victim
Support National Centre to fund enhanced
services to victims and witnesses.
Additionally, £1.75 million was allocated to the victims’
fund each year. There are currently no plans to pay
compensation to victims of crime from surcharge
funds. The explanatory memorandum accompanying
the enabling legislation for the victims’ surcharge
makes it clear that surcharge money should be used to
fund services helping victims of crime and witnesses.

Well, well, well. Guess what? Something like eight million quid has gone to the CPS. Not a red cent has gone to any victim.
The surcharge remains what it was; an unfair and arbitrary tax that funnels cash into quangos that have the sense to include the 'V' word in their name.
Its day-to-day application produces continuing unfairness and occasionally ludicrous outcomes. Fining a large company for environmental offences last year I announced fines totalling some £35,000, costs in the region of £15,000, and a £15 surcharge. On the same day, in the same building, bedraggled and disorganised single mothers from the rough estate down the road were fined for not having a TV licence, and ordered to pay the same £15 charge. Director drives his BMW while over the drink limit - fine £800, surcharge £15. Student evades a £2.80 train fare - fine £75, surcharge £15.
Realistically, given the Government's financial woes, nobody is going to put the abolition of the charge very high up on their list. But it's still a rotten and unjust idea.