Govt accused of abusing criminal justice system

Unless you come before the beak, you are unlikely to know that your court appearance will result in you becoming a victim yourself – of a new government stealth tax introduced 1 April. And Ely magistrate Alan Williams has resigned in disgust, describing it as “immoral”, accusing the government of abusing the criminal justice system.

He was one of the first magistrates in the country to refuse to impose the £15 victim surcharge when recently sentencing a man for possessing cannabis.

The levy has been ordered by the Home Office to fund support services for victims of crime, particularly victims of domestic violence. The scheme is expected to raise £16 million a year and is aimed at helping tip the balance of the justice system in favour of the victim.

But motorists’ groups have called the surcharge a stealth tax. They point out that while speeding drivers who are fined in court will have to pay the charge, murderers and rapists who are jailed will not.

Alan, with 14 years experience on the bench, was summoned himself to appear before magistrates’ authorities to explain his actions and resigned afterwards, saying he would never impose a charge he considered immoral.

Discussions in Parliament made clear the surcharge should not be a tax on motorists, yet this is effectively what it will be. The surcharge relegates the role of magistrates to that of taxcollectors. That is nothing for which I submitted myself when I became a magistrate.

“I have absolutely no problem with increasing money for victims of crime, but that should come out of general taxation. It should not be imposed arbitrarily on totally unrelated matters.

“The government is abusing the criminal justice system to raise money for other purposes.”

Let’s hope a few more magistrates will make a stand for common sense and justice. Surely this is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and it doesn’t seem legal to me ….


  1. I think this is a terrible swindle, it is a real con, particularly as it is targeted at motorists too. Surely a defendant should only make a payment towards his or her victim, not everyone elses.

  2. electro-kevin

    A typically Brownite tax which won’t reach the victims so much as the army of Labour voting psycho-babble ‘professionals’.

    As usual it’s like taking candy off of a baby and of course, the British public will put up with it as ever.

  3. I am increasingly distressed by the taxes that are levied in the form of motoring offences of all sorts and this general tax is of a similiar sort.
    Why should we ever believe that any tax is ring fenced.It only replaces expenditure that would otherwise have been central government funded. We get reams of nonsense about the Coucil tax and our priorities but the truth is a lot of it merely funds the gold plated public sector pensions that we are never going to receive from our not ring fenced NI contributions.

    Lie upon lie upon lie and I have the feeling they are not bothering to be subtle about it any more

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