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Criminal injuries compensation for ex-offenders who suffered childhood sexual abuse

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Calls for Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme reform

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a government body which was set up in 1996 to compensate victims of violent crime. If a victim of violent crime has unspent criminal convictions (which is a conviction which remains on their criminal record), then they will not be able to claim compensation, following the amendment of the CICA rules in 2012.

Prior to 2012 the CICA had a discretion to award victims with unspent convictions a reduced or partial award. The government believed ex-offenders should not benefit from a publicly funded scheme and so the rules were amended in 2012. The change affected a lot of victims, none more so than those who have been subject to childhood sexual abuse and unfortunately found themselves with unspent convictions.

The independent inquiry into childhood sexual abuse published their report on the failings of the government to protect the victims of sexual abuse. Within this report it was found that many victims and survivors were unable to claim compensation, and they were of the opinion that the rules needed to be changed to allow victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse to be rightfully compensated. The inquiry advised that some of the survivors and victim’s criminal records can be linked to the abuse suffered and they should not be automatically rejected. A number of other recommendations were also given:

  • Police need to be proactive and consistent about informing victims of their rights to compensation
  • The three-year time limit on victims bringing claims for compensation in the civil courts may need to be extended
  • Damages awarded to claimants should take greater account of the physical, emotional and psychiatric injuries, along with the impact on their long-term quality of life
  • Survivors of child sexual abuse should get the same protections in civil courts as vulnerable witnesses do in criminal cases
  • The Ministry of Justice should consider ways to increase criminal compensation orders - where offenders are ordered to pay money to victims as part of their sentence - in abuse cases

The Ministry of Justice are reviewing the CICA scheme following the landmark ruling in ‘JT’ in 2018 and February 2019, the Same Roof Rule was abolished, allowing victims and survivors of sexual abuse prior to 1979 where the offender lived in the same household to now seek compensation. The ruling in JT and the findings of the independent inquiry will hopefully allow more victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse the right access to be compensated for their injuries via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

We have experience in handling CICA claims which includes childhood sexual abuse. If you require any further advice, then please give us a call on 0175 321 6399.

By Toni Lowery, graduate paralegal in the personal injury team

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