HC Deb 13 July 1989 vol 156 cc1120-1
7. Mr. Patnick

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what resources the Government currently make available to those organisations concerned with counselling the victims of serious crimes against the person.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

This year we are providing nearly £4 million to victim support, chiefly to enable local schemes to employ staff to organise their services. The schemes help the victims of a wide range of crimes, including serious crimes against the person. I understand that the Department of Health will this year give £25,000 to the London rape counselling and research project to support the national element of its work. Other organisations which receive Government grants may help victims of crime, but not as their primary function.

Mr. Patnick

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. In considering non-custodial offences, will the Government give priority to offenders having to pay victims?

Mr. Hogg

I regard this as an extremely important suggestion. As the House will know, the criminal law already makes provision for compensation to be paid by offenders in appropriate circumstances, and the courts will bear that consideration in mind.

Mr. Winnick

Although I believe strongly in bail, remission and parole, and have not changed my mind, is it not absolutely essential that careful consideration is given by the authorities before any of those apply to people charged with or convicted of violent offences, including rape? Bearing in mind what the Home Secretary said a few moments ago, does the Minister recognise that the public needs to be reassured about these matters, after some very disturbing cases?

Mr. Hogg

Unusually, I am in considerable sympathy with the hon. Gentleman. The criteria set out in the Bail Act 1976 are about right and certainly take account of the anxieties that he has expressed.

Mr. Greg Knight

With serious crimes, is there not a good case for ensuring that the criminal is subject to effective supervision when he is released from prison, as was identified in the Carlisle report?

Mr. Hogg

That is an extremely interesting suggestion which deserves the fullest consideration.