HC Deb 03 May 1973 vol 855 cc1455-6
19. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the number of cases where compensation was paid to a victim of crime, and the total value of such compensation since the coming into force of the Criminal Justice Act 1972.

Mr. Carlisle

The compensation provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 1972 came into force only on 1st January of this year. Information on the use by the courts of these provisions is being collected but is not yet available.

Mr. McCrindle

I agree that these are early days to expect figures to be produced, but is my hon. and learned Friend convinced that the public have been made fully aware of their rights under the Criminal Justice Act 1972? If he comes to the conclusion that that is not so, will he employ all forms of publicity to make the public aware of their rights under the Act?

Mr. Carlisle

Although the figures are not available, my impression is that considerably wider use is being made of the powers to order compensation. I welcome what my hon. Friend has said. Although, obviously, one cannot suggest what the courts should do in individual cases, Parliament made clear in the Criminal Justice Act that it hoped that the courts would use their powers widely to award compensation to victims of crime.

Mr. Peter Archer

Would not more impact be made on this problem if legal aid were available to applicants before the Criminal Injuries Board? Is not this yet another instance in which the poorest and the least articulate are at the greatest disadvantage?

Mr. Carlisle

With respect, that is a rather different question, but, as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, the criminal injuries compensation scheme is being reviewed, and one question that can be considered is whether or not legal aid for applicants would be appropriate.