The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is a government funded scheme designed to compensate people who have been physically or mentally injured as a victim of a violent crime in England, Scotland or Wales. This includes child sexual abuse.
The Scheme sets out the criteria and amounts for compensation. It was first set up in 1964 when awards were set at the rate that a victim would have received if they had successfully taken civil action against the offender. Since 1996 the levels of compensation awarded have been set as tariffs by Parliament and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) was established for the purpose of administering the Scheme.
Initially, the Scheme specified that it was for ‘blameless’ victims. Rules on criminal convictions originally meant that applicants with unspent convictions were automatically excluded from applying. However following a 2012 review, reform brought changes meaning that unspent convictions may result in disqualification from applying or that a proportion of the victims’ compensation will be deducted.
This was a welcome change but does it go far enough?
Labour MP Andrew Gwynne believes that it does not, stating that it “highlights a real unfairness at the heart of the criminal injuries compensation system”. He believes that “Any criminal records they (victims’) have subsequently got themselves are a separate matter for the criminal justice system entirely”.
There have been further calls for the Government to urgently address this by way of a joint statement by Victim Support, Rape Crisis England and Wales, Barnardo’s and NWG – “It is outrageous that so many survivors of child sexual abuse are being denied the compensation and recognition that they deserve. Victims and survivors are often targeted because they are vulnerable and lack support. In many cases, their convictions may be committed as part of their sexual abuse or as a result of it”.
With no confirmation from the Government, the chances of reform are currently unknown but it is hoped that further forward progress will be made sooner rather than later and that survivors of child sexual abuse will no longer be ‘punished’ a second time for things that have happened in the past.
As legal professionals in this field, we strive to achieve the best possible outcome for all of our clients in securing the highest award possible and one that accurately reflects the pain, suffering and loss experienced. If you or someone you know has suffered sexual abuse as a child and needs advice in making a CICA claim, then please contact our dedicated Abuse Team. Call 0330 134 6430 or contact us by email.