It has been in the news recently that according to a number of charities, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has refused compensation payouts to approximately 700 child victims as young as 12 on the basis that they gave ‘consent’, despite their attackers having been jailed.
Sexual activity with anyone under the age of 16 is illegal, yet it is argued that such activity is not correctly reflected in compensation decisions. Whilst the CICA does not make payments to all victims of this abuse automatically, charities including Liberty, Victims Support and Barnardos have written to David Lidington, Justice Secretary, demanding that the CICA guidelines for compensation are reviewed.
Such request is made so that no child manipulated and groomed into activity of a sexual nature has compensation denied to them by cause of them complying with their abuser through lack of understanding, fear, or being brainwashed into believing that their attacker had feelings for them and loved them.
The co-chair of Rape Crisis England & Wales, Dawn Thomas, said that “it’s not only bizarre but also inappropriate and harmful that the [CICA] applies a different definition of consent from the law and, as a result, routinely tell victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation that they consented to the sexual violence against them.”
In response to this, a spokesperson for the CICA stated that, whilst sexual abuse of a child is despicable, victims are able to apply through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme for a tax-payer-funded compensation award. They state that their intentions are to ensure that abusive and controlling behaviour is considered when handling applications for compensation and that the guidelines are urgently being reviewed to make sure that guidelines are powerful enough to deal with cases where a factor may involve grooming.
By Jessica Booth, graduate paralegal in the personal injury team.