asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to change the law to make persons convicted of criminal offences against the person or criminal damage to property fully liable to compensate the victims and to render them bankrupt if the necessary funds are not available.
We see no need to change the existing powers of the courts to order and enforce payment of compensation by offenders. Under section 35 of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973 a court may order a person convicted of an offence to pay compensation for any personal injury, loss or damage resulting from that offence or any other offence which is taken into consideration in determining sentence. The enforcement measures available include the attachment of earnings, distraint on goods and the initiation of proceedings in the civil courts, which have further powers to compel payment. Under section 39 of the 1973 Act, where the Crown Court has convicted a person of an offence and that offence together with any other relevant offences has resulted in loss or damage exceeding £15,000, the court may make a criminal bankruptcy order against him. These provisions of the criminal law do not affect the rights of persons who have suffered injury or loss to sue the offender for damages in the civil courts.