Category Archives: Victims
Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales writes:
Not fast enough!
Today at the Nat West cash point on Portland Street near China Town in central Manchester, I was withdrawing cash when I noticed a male and female of Eastern European origin loitering.
As the machine was about to dispense the cash I noticed them split and come each side of me knowing what was about to happen I focused only on the cash and as it came out I took hold of it immediately just as the guy came up to me and said ‘want to buy perfume’ with a box in his hand.
I took the cash out of the machine put it in my pocket and said “no” without even looking at him – please be aware of distractions at cash point machines, focus on the money and the card nothing else – had I turned to look at his perfume the female would have been off with the cash.
Also make a note of the emergency numbers of your bank cards – so if you do happen to become the prey of these people you can phone the bank immediately – I have all my card numbers in my mobile.
Secondly I wish banks would install mirrors above their cash points so you can see what is happening behind you when your back is turned.
Finally if this does happen to you, whether they get away with anything or not report it online toyour police service so they can gather intelligence and police crime hotspots.
Prisoners who have taken jobs outside jail are to find out the result of their High Court claim that a levy on their wages which goes to victim support is too high. The test case action affects inmates working in the community as they prepare for their release and to “go straight”.
A judge in London is to announce his decision in the challenge against the legality of the way Justice Secretary Ken Clarke is operating rules governing deductions from pay packets.
Under the Prisoners’ Earnings Act 1996, inmates engaged in “enhanced wages work” outside prison have 40% of pay that is in excess of £20 paid to victim support.
Kate Markus, appearing at a recent hearing with Hugh Southey QC for several working prisoners who cannot be named, told Mr Justice Sales that the payments were “disproportionate” and there was “widespread concern” about the levy.
She referred to the pressure group “Unlock” (the National Association of Reformed Offenders) which argues that the levy is undermining rehabilitation and acting as “a disincentive to work”.
Mr Clarke could, and should, have allocated a portion of the 40% levy to help the inmates rebuild their lives as well as help victims, she argued.
Ms Markus asked the court to declare that the way Prison Service rules were being applied to inmate’s earnings was “incompatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights.
She said Mr Clarke had failed to strike a balance between the interests of victims of crime and inmates.
The case mostly affects the inmates of open prisons but also some Category C prisoners allowed to work out in the community on day release under contracts of employment.
Rates of pay from outside employers are higher than those for work performed in prison.
The court heard claims that prisoners with high travel expenses to reach work were being left with no wages.
There were also complaints that they were being left with insufficient funds to pay towards costs of resettlement such as helping out with family expenses, or saving for a rent deposit and furniture for when they were released.
Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners and the founder of UNLOCK said: “This levy is nothing more than a political tool to win votes by attacking those prisoners who have complied with everything they have been asked to do, have achieved trusted positions in open prison conditions, are nearing the end of their sentences and who are preparing for their release.
“If Ken Clarke is serious about wanting to help victims of crime then he should place the levy on all of the 85,000 people in prison, and not just the handful of inmates who this disingenuous provision unfairly targets.”