The country’s leading traffic lawyer has branded the victim surcharge nothing short of a stealth tax on motorists.
The call was made by celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman, after a client was ordered to pay a £100 surcharge, despite there being no apparent victim involved.
This, he said, was in stark contrast to the ever increasing number of cases where Police officers were applying community resolutions to serious crimes, allowing the offender to apologise to the victim rather than be charged or cautioned.
Almost 34,000 crimes were dealt with in this way last year, yet not a penny was paid into the victim surcharge scheme.
In other words, motorists are being used to fund these victims since there is no contribution from the actual perpetrators, he added.
Introduced as part of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, the victim surcharge came into play in April 2007, when the Home Office announced that all fines for criminal charges would carry an additional flat-rate charge of £15 to fund a better support service for victims of crime.
Last October, a change in the law saw the flat-rate charge being replaced with a surcharge of 10 per cent of the value of a fine, up to a maximum of £120.
Mr Freeman said: “The victim surcharge was always a stealth tax, which has now been very quietly increased, in some cases by as much as eight times the standard rate.
“Yet again the hard-pressed motorist is being financially abused.”