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Another dose of common-sense from the papers

May 22, 2006
From the Wolverhampton Express and Star today, bless ’em.

It will not have escaped the attention of crime victims that at least one
section of the community seems to be doing rather better than most at securing
compensation for claims of injury and assault.

Figures released by the Government show that this lucky group received
more than £4million last year – nearly doubling the payouts for 2004-05.

Much of the cash was handed out uncontested, which begins to make the
odd claim for a slip or a trip, perceived abuse or harassment or even a little
medical negligence appear to be what some dodgy characters might see as “a nice
little earner”.

Astonishing as it seems, it is not the victims of crime who are
benefiting from this particular compensation bonanza, but the criminals
themselves.

It’s the ones who are behind bars, not the ones outside trying to
rebuild shattered lives who seem to be coining the compo.

Too late it seems comes the warning that prisons could fall foul of
compensation culture. The figures indicate the curse has already struck.

Undoubtedly there will be genuine cases, but the news still jars at a
time when prison officers themselves are engaged in a campaign against reforms
proposed in December’s Green Paper which would limit compensation to the victims
of crime.

The figures have been published only days after new Home Secretary John
Reid has been forced to announce that the Government has been embarrassed into
revisiting the level of compensation offered to victims of the London bombings
in July last year.

Mr Reid says the Government is seeking to improve compensation for the
victims of criminal and other injustices. But how does that square with another
plan that talks about capping the maximum compensation that will be paid to
people who have been wrongly convicted and imprisoned for crimes they haven’t
committed?

Again it appears to be indicative of the Government’s muddled thinking
on crime, criminality and the perception of what exactly justice means in
Britain today.

Soft on criminals, tough on the victims of crime, apparently.

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