The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has recently published its views in response to a Ministry of Justice consultation, which considers amendments to the current Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

The APIL is calling for the eligibility scope for criminal injuries compensation to be widened to cover survivors of offences such as online grooming and online child sexual abuse in order to assist survivors to “get their lives back on track,” as stated by the Vice President of APIL, Kim Harrison.

Under the current Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, there is a focus on whether the survivor has been victim to a “crime of violence” but incidents of online abuse involve no physical contact and, therefore, victims of such incidents fall outside of the scope. The APIL have suggested that the focus should be on whether the crime has caused harm to the victim as opposed to the current scheme which sets out that the crime must involve physical violence.

The Internet Watch Foundation publication, which was released earlier this year, sets out that since 2019 there has been a 1,058% increase in the number of webpages showing sexual abuse images and videos of children aged 7-10 and sexual abuse imagery of primary school children is 1,000% worse since lockdown. Therefore, the APIL’s calls for the current scheme to be widened to encompass victims of online child sexual abuse are arguably more relevant than ever.

Furthermore, the APIL are calling for the current time limits for making an application to the CICA to be extended. Under the current rules, survivors have 2 years from the date of the police report to submit an application or, if the crime was reported whilst the victim was a child, 2 years from the child turning 18 years old. The APIL argues that the time limits should be extended to 7 years instead of 2 years from the date the offence was reported to the police or from the victim turning 18 years old where the offence was reported when the victim was a child.

The rationale for the suggested extension to the current time limits is that often victims of online child abuse find it incredibly difficult to talk about the crimes they have been victim to and it can take years for them to speak out. Many victims of online child abuse also often do not realise that they have been victim to a crime.

Farleys have a dedicated team that have expertise in CICA claims and assisting victims in seeking redress. If you would like to discuss a potential CICA claim with a member of the team then please call us on 0330 134 6430, contact us by email, or use our online chat service.