Clause 2 - Penalty notices

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 7:15 pm on 6th February 2001.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 7:15 pm, 6th February 2001

I endorse the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire and the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey.

Even under the Minister's much vaunted new scheme involving reprimands and final warnings, the most important aspect of the matter for the victim is the compensation payment. A case of criminal damage occurred recently in my constituency. I note that the victim of the tragedy that happened in the Minister's constituency lived near to him, and in this case also the victim of the offence lived quite close to my home. The most important aspect of the matter is relevant to the reprimand and final warning case. The prosecution agreed that such a disposal was appropriate only because compensation was being paid. That was part and parcel of the Government's new system.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire that we shall need a lot of persuading that it is right for compensation to be lost from the procedure for dealing with criminal damage. From my recent experience—including one or two matters that I have taken on a pro bono basis—and from discussions with Victim Support, which other Members may also have had, I know that the main thing that many people want to know, especially in cases involving criminal damage, is whether they will be compensated in full. I hope that the Minister will be as helpful as he was on the previous amendment, and say that he still has an open mind. If victims are important and Victim Support is an important organisation, which I suspect is common ground in the Committee, the compensation element must be retained.