The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority ( CICA) is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. The agency makes compensation awards for sexual assault cases ranging from £1000 to £44,000.
Five Charities; Barnardo’s, Victim Support, Liberty, Rape Crisis and the National Working Group have collected information to show that children as young as 12 years old are being denied compensation because they have given consent to sexual activity.
The Charities have formed a Coalition and have written to the Justice Secretary David Lidington asking for the guidelines to be changed; an action we support.
It is illegal to have sexual activity with a person under the age of 16 years, but the CICA do not automatically make compensation payments to victims. Many victims have been refused compensation because the CICA have told them that they have “ consented” to the abuse.
It is our view that the CICA’s guidelines should be changed so that children who have complied with the abuse through fear or have been groomed or manipulated into participating in sexual activity receive compensation for the sexual abuse they have suffered.
The Coalition of Charities have asked the CICA to change their assessment criteria so that, “no child groomed and manipulated into sexual abuse is denied compensation because they complied with their abuse through fear, lack of understanding, or being brainwashed into believing their abuser loved them and developing feelings for them.”
The Coalition gave the following example of a case where compensation was refused, “a gang of older men were jailed for 30 years after being convicted of raping and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. Her case was taken up by Victim Support; she was denied compensation by CICA on the grounds that “she had not been the victim of non-consensual sexual acts.”
Chief Executive of Barnardo’s Javed Khan has said: “For children to be denied compensation on the grounds that they ‘consented’ to the abuse they have suffered is nothing short of scandalous. The very rules that are supposed to protect children are actually harming them.”
It is our view that children cannot consent to sexual activity and this is the reason for the law defining the age of consent. This view is support by a poll undertaken by the Coalition which showed that two thirds of people agree that the rules should be changed, “so that a child cannot be found to have “consented” to activities involved in their sexual exploitation.”
We understand that approximately 700 victims have been denied compensation due to the CICA’s decision regarding consent. We hope that changes are made soon to prevent further victims being denied compensation which they deserve.