Justice Secretary Unveils Criminal Compensation Reforms
Thousands of victims will miss out on compensation under Kenneth Clarke's plans to scrap payouts for minor injuries.
The Justice Secretary's overhaul of victims' services will also see speeding drivers face higher fines, with about £20 from each ticket going towards helping victims.
Crime victims could also be given a greater say in the sentences handed down to offenders, with new guidance for judges on how their views should be taken into account, the Press Association reported.
Mr Clarke said the current system was simply "not sustainable" and would be changed to ensure victims with the most serious injuries get the help they need.
But figures for the last two years showed that more than 17,000 claims totalling in excess of £25m for injuries including sprained ankles, broken toes and dislocated jaws would no longer qualify for compensation under the proposals.
And a further 12,950 claims totalling £50m would be reduced.
These would include payouts for brain injuries, such as minor brain damage, well-controlled epilepsy and permanent disabling dislocations and fractures, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation document said.
The amount crime victims would receive for loss of earnings could also be capped at £12,600 under the plans.
And rapists, murderers and all those who have committed crimes against others and have unspent criminal convictions will also, "in most cases, no longer be eligible to seek taxpayer compensation when others commit crimes against them", Mr Clarke said.
"Compensation should be focused on those with serious injuries," he said, adding that the current levels of payouts for families of homicide victims, and those who suffer sexual crimes or persistent physical abuse, would be protected.
"In order to offer that protection, and fund the scheme sustainably, we propose to reduce or remove awards for those with less grave injuries," he said.
The victims' surcharge currently raises about £10m each year, but the Government spends about £66m on victim and witness support services.
Under the proposals, bad drivers would face tougher financial penalties and the victims' surcharge would be increased in a bid to raise an extra £50m.
Current fixed fines of £60 for offences such as driving while using a mobile phone and not wearing a seatbelt could go up to between £80 and £100, the Department for Transport said last May.
"The proposed increases for motoring offences include those in relation to excessive speed, control of a vehicle, mobile phone use, ignoring signals and pedestrian crossings, and failure to wear a seatbelt," the consultation document said.
But the plans to use higher fines for drivers to help victims were criticised by motoring groups.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Clearly speeding motorists are law breakers but their punishment should fit the crime, not turn into a tax paid only by this particular group of offenders because it is easy to collect."
The victims' surcharge scheme will also be extended.
Under present law, only criminals who are fined as part of their punishment are forced to pay the charge - which currently sits at a £15 flat rate.
But if the proposals are put through, anyone jailed for more than two years would have to pay £120, while those sentenced to six months or less in prison would face an £80 charge.
A new victims' code would also be brought in "so victims know what to expect during the investigation and trials process, and know where to turn when things go wrong", Mr Clarke said.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) said the planned reforms were a "gross injustice".
David Bott, the group's president, said the proposals "risk cutting genuine claimants off from the compensation they need and deserve".
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust campaign group, also warned that the Government "must guard against sweeping away the rights of some victims, placing an unrealistic emphasis on financial redress or undermining the vital work of Victim Support".
She added that "treating those convicted of offences as a kind of subspecies is reprehensible and counterproductive".
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said the consultation document was "a missed opportunity".