Prisoners to pay victims of crime
Up to £1 million a year will be taken from the wages of prisoners who work in communities and used to support victims of crime, ministers have said.
About 500 inmates who work outside prisons will see their take-home pay cut by up to 40% and used to help support victims as part of Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke's rehabilitation revolution, the Ministry of Justice said.
Ministers are also planning to bring in powers to target the wages of prisoners working inside jails, but the average prisoner working behind bars receives just £10 per week.
Policing Minister Nick Herbert said: "For too long the financial burden of repairing the damage done by crime has fallen to the taxpayer alone.
"Making offenders pay financial reparation to victims will require them to take personal responsibility for their crimes and go some way towards making redress to victims through the funding of crucial support services."
Under the Prisoners' Earnings Act which comes into force today, 40% of prisoners' wages over £20 per week - after tax, National Insurance and any court-ordered or child support payments - will be deducted and given to Victim Support.
Javed Khan, the charity's chief executive, said the money will be used "to deliver real, practical support for victims and communities".
"Getting prisoners working and developing workplace skills should help them on the path to reform," he said. "This will be very much welcomed by victims as they are united in wanting offenders to stop committing crimes."
Victims' Commissioner Louise Casey added: "I believe the principle of criminals contributing to the costs of support for victims should be extended, and am hopeful that the Government will now extend the victims' surcharge that judges and magistrates impose such that it applies to all offenders."
Mr Khan told BBC Radio 4: "I think we should celebrate that, for once, we've got an initiative that puts victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. It's rhetoric we've heard for many years. With this initiative, the victims will recognise that the Government is doing something to make offenders put back some of what they've done to society."