HL Deb 10 May 1988 vol 496 cc963-4

2.36 p.m.

Baroness Sharples asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they intend to take to support and compensate victims of crime in the United Kingdom.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

My Lords, increased support for victims is one of the most important recent developments in our action against crime. We intend to continue to provide substantial funds and encouragement to victims' support schemes and for the criminal injuries compensation schemes. The Criminal Justice Bill will help victims of crime and improve the basis of compensation.

Baroness Sharples

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Can he tell the House whether the people affected by the Brighton bombings have put in their claims and have received compensation? Does my noble friend consider that the publicity given to this matter is sufficient to enable people to know where and how to claim?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, with regard to the Brighton bombings, I understand that there are some cases still left unresolved but that the majority of them have been resolved. With regard to publicity, some leaflets will be produced later this month which will be available to people through the police and will tell them how to set about claiming compensation.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that we were delighted to learn from an Answer given by his honourable friend Mr. Patten in another place on 17th March that up to £11 million will be made available over the next three years to assist the voluntary schemes? Is he further aware that the Minister said that guidance would be issued to the police force as to how the police could assist the victims of crime? Can he indicate the nature of that guidance?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, the police will be given certain guidance on how to inform victims who have been subjected to crimes of violence. One of the ways in which that will be done is by producing a leaflet. The police will also be able to advise people from their own knowledge.

Lord Winstanley

My Lords, with regard to the scheme operated by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to which the noble Earl referred, can he tell the House whether the funds available to that board are at present adequate to meet the claims being made upon it?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, in the year before last the criminal injuries compensation scheme for Great Britain paid out over £48 million. It is provisionally expected that the figure for 1987–88 will be £52 million, and over £80 million has been provided for this current year.

Lord Morris

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend what moves have been made to encourage the perpetrators of crimes to compensate their victims?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, there are arrangements to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes are made to pay compensation. The Criminal Justice Bill gives the victims of violent crime a statutory right to compensation, and parliamentary authority is provided for that expenditure. Under that Bill it will be possible for those who have perpetrated crimes to pay compensation, and if they cannot do so immediately they will have to pay in instalments.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, will the Minister say whether any special steps are being taken in respect of victims of rape?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, there are special steps to help such people. Special facilities are being set up for victims of rape. Also, under the Criminal Justice Bill the protection of anonymity is given to the victims of rape. That is extended from the moment at which an allegation of rape is made. As I said, in addition there are the special physical facilities which are being set up where people can be interrogated in places of relative peace and quiet.