$510k for crime victims

By Imran Ali

Northland law courts have collected almost $510,000 in offender levies since the measure was imposed by the Ministry of Justice in June 2010.

The offender levy requires all convicted offenders to pay $50 towards services for victims of serious crimes. Payments include services and grants available through ACC and Victim Support, rather then the ministry providing money directly to victims of crimes.

A single levy is imposed at each sentencing event, irrespective of how many charges a person is being sentenced for.

Offender levies can not be collected from people in prison but prisoners will be required to pay on release.

From July 1, 2010 to the end of last year, 14,946 of the 281,510 offender levies imposed nationally were levied by Northland courts.

There were 8103 levies imposed by the Whangarei District Court, 71 by the High Court, 3750 by Kaikohe District Court, 1984 in Kaitaia, 1037 in Dargaville District Court and one in the Youth Court.

Northland courts received $509,650 during that period.

The $50 levy is imposed automatically on all convicted offenders at sentencing, regardless of the crime they commit. It is be collected after reparation and before fines, and is in addition to any sentence or court order.

Notice of the offender levy is posted at the door to all courtrooms around the country.

The ministry estimated it would collect $13.6 million over the first four years, and the money would be used to fund eight additional entitlements and services for victims of serious crime.

These include an enhanced homicide support service, which will provide four paid homicide support co-ordinators to work with Victim Support's volunteer network, and an increase from $1500 to $5000 in discretionary grants for families of homicide victims suffering financial difficulties.

The ministry paid out 2091 grants for services for victims of serious crime and their families in the first year of the $50 offender levy.

- Northern Advocate

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