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4 March 2024
Practicalities of being a magistrate Victims

The victim surcharge applies to all sentences—here's our refresher on what it is, as well as the MA's position on the topic.

What is the victim surcharge?

The victim surcharge, often referred to as just the ‘surcharge’, applies to any person sentenced and aims to ensure that offenders hold some responsibility towards the cost of supporting victims and witnesses.

The victim surcharge was introduced in 2007 as a flat rate for any person sentenced with a fine. It has since been expanded to apply to all sentences.

The surcharge is mandatory and applies to adults and children. It is used to fund services that support victims and does not go directly to the victims of a crime.

The amount depends on a range of factors, such as when the offence was committed, the type of sentence, and whether the offender is aged under 18. The amount that is paid can range from nothing (if they are unable to pay) up to a maximum of £2,000.

What was the most recent change?

New increased rates for the victim surcharge came into force on 16 June 2022. When consulting on the change, the government explained it was proposing this uplift to “safeguard future funding for critical services and ensure offenders pay more towards victim support services”. This was in response to an increase in demand for victim support services.

What is the MA’s position?

In February 2022, the MA responded to a Ministry of Justice consultation on improving victims’ experiences of the justice system. The MA opposed the suggested increase, suggesting instead that alternative funding provision be made for services.

We also argued that it is more effective to order compensation for directly affected victims and called for the victim surcharge to be abolished for children who commit offences under the age of 18. Read our full response to the consultation (PDF).

Although magistrates are, since 16 June 2022, required to impose the increased rate for the victim surcharge, the MA is continuing to discuss the implications of the change and raise our concerns with senior judiciary. Read our position statement (PDF).

Outside of the surcharge, the MA is committed to ensuring victim satisfaction and confidence in the system. Most recently, in response to the Victims and Prisoners Bill, the MA proposed reform to reduce the re-traumatisation of victims and ensure more efficient compensation.

We propose an amendment to the Bill (PDF) that would establish a central victims fund for compensation. It would ensure that victims of crime are compensated but not re-traumatised as a result of incremental payments. Instead, the fund will ensure payments can be made in a lump sum but paid into by offenders incrementally.

Have your say

We want to hear from members about your experiences of the increased surcharge day-to-day, including the impact, if any, it is having on court practice. Please email us at with your views.

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Delivering justice for victims

We advocate for no increase to the victim surcharge and highlight the important role of impact statements. We call for better ways to amplify the voice of the victim in court.
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Victim surcharge increase

We oppose the increase in victim surcharge rates. Magistrates apply the law as reformed after this consultation but we continue to raise our concerns around the use of the victim surcharge in youth court and the impact on people on low incomes.
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Victims and Prisoners Bill: committee stage

We call for a central victims fund to reduce the re-traumatisation of victims and enure more effcient compensation.