Offenders now paying crime levy

NORTH Antrim people and others from across Northern Ireland are now being hit harder in the pocket for offending.

Individuals from the area are now having to pay more for offences and for example a Mosside man was fined £250 but that was put up to £265 because of the £15 ‘offender levy’.

The levy is for offences committed after June 6 this year.

The offender levy came into force in Northern Ireland on June 6 along with powers for police officers to issue fixed-penalty notices.

The levy is expected to raise £500,000 a year, which will be used to support victims of crime. All adult offenders will pay between £5 and £50 into a dedicated Victims of Crime Fund as part of their sentence or fine.

It will be applied at £5 for police fixed-penalty notices and £15 for court fines. For prison sentences, offenders serving up to two years will pay £25 a year and the rest £50 a year.

Prisoners who refuse to pay the levy will have the funds deducted from their prison earnings.

The fixed-penalty notices will charge first-time offenders between £40 and £80 for offences such as public drunkenness, disorderly behaviour and minor shoplifting. It is estimated they will result in 1,500 fewer people going to court each year, making the justice system quicker and more efficient.

Justice minister David Ford said: “There is no such thing as a victimless crime and the imposition of this levy will reinforce to the offender the impact their actions have on others.

“The government already invests significant resources in delivering quality services to victims of witnesses of crime. Money generated from the offender levy will provide an additional revenue stream to be used solely for victim and witness services.”

Provisions for the levy and fines are contained in the Justice Act (Northern Ireland), which was approved by the Northern Ireland Assembly last year. The levy applies to offences committed on or after June 6.