Brake Welcomes New Surcharge To Improve Victim Support

And urges Government to make sufficient funds available for road crash victims

As of 1 April 2007, anyone given a fine after being convicted of a criminal offence in court will have to pay an additional £15. The levy will go towards the Government’s Victims Fund to help improve services for victims of crime, including families devastated by a death or serious injury on the road.
Traffic offenders, like all other criminal offenders who receive a fine in court, will now be required to pay £15. The surcharge will not apply to fixed penalty fines at this stage, although this is planned to be introduced at a later date.

Despite the fact that many road crashes are the result of a crime, the majority of road crash victims are not eligible for support from the Government-funded charity Victim Support, which offers support to other victims of crime. Currently, the only centrally funded support for these victims is a bereavement pack, produced by BrakeCare, a division of Brake, which is given by police to bereaved relatives following every death on the road. The invaluable and long-standing Government funding for this guide provides a lifeline to families devastated by the nine deaths that occur every day on our roads.

Brake welcomes the opening up of the Victims Fund, which the Government has promised will make extra funds available to groups providing support to road crash victims. Brake hopes this opportunity will be used to plug current gaps in services offered to this often forgotten group of victims, including provision of:

  • Other BrakeCare literature, including literature for children and people seriously injured in a road crash, plus translations of all guides into other languages, for people whose first language is not English.
  • A national helpline for road crash victims, such as the helpline provided by BrakeCare (0845 603 8570), which can provide support and information over the phone, as well as signpost all agencies providing services for road crash victims.
  • A comprehensive national face-to-face support service for road crash victims, similar to the service provided by Victim Support for people bereaved by murder and manslaughter. This should be rolled out across the country with lessons learnt from the Home Office-funded pilots which finished in April 2005.

Sarah Fatica, head of BrakeCare, said: ‘Brake welcomes these steps to make those who commit crimes provide a small sum to help victims. Brake urges the Government to ensure that the Victims Fund is used to provide adequate, much-needed support for road crash victims, who are often traumatically bereaved and in desperate need of information and support. We urge the Government to ensure sufficient funding is available for support literature, a national helpline and face-to-face support.’

Dionne Sheen, a Brake volunteer whose 13-year-old daughter Amber was killed in a road crash, says: ‘Being bereaved by a road crash is utterly devastating. On top of this, many of the procedures that follow a death on the road can be confusing and unfamiliar, especially when you are in a state of shock and trauma. The support my family received from Brake was invaluable, but much more needs to be invested in supporting families who lose a loved one suddenly and violently in a road crash. It’s appalling that there is no Government-funded face-to-face support for road crash victims, when this is a service offered to people who have had their mobile phone stolen. I sincerely urge the Government to provide adequate support for other victims who have to suffer the devastation of losing a loved one in a road crash.’

3 April 2007 Staff
 

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