An article in the Guardian yesterday, ‘Government denying sexually abused children compensation’, reports that many victims of sexual abuse are being denied compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), on the grounds that they have consented to being abused. We wrote about this in a separate article here
Freedom of Information requests have revealed that approximately 700 child victims have had applications for compensation refused by the CICA, even in cases where their abusers have been jailed for the attacks.
A coalition of five charities – Barnardo’s, Victim Support, Liberty, Rape Crisis and the National Working Group – have demanded that the guidelines are reviewed.
Currently, the CICA Scheme states that a person may be eligible for an award under the Scheme if “they sustain a criminal injury which is directly attributable to their being a direct victim of a crime of violence”. Sexual assaults are classified as being a crime of violence but only those assaults “to which a person did not in fact consent”.
The key words that the CICA seek to rely upon is “in fact” which is different to consent “in law”. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes it an offence to undertake any kind of sexual activity with a child under the age of 13, regardless of any issues of consent. For certain types of sexual offences with a child between the ages of 13 and 16, a defence that the offender did not “reasonably believe” the victim was under 16 can be relied upon.
A number of cases have been brought against the CICA and appealed to the Court of Appeal on the “consent” issue. The Court of Appeal have generally upheld the decision not to award any damages on the basis that there has been “factual” consent.
However, in the case of R (on the application of JE) v CICAP, the Court held that submission is not the same as consent. In that case, the applicant was a vulnerable prisoner and there was a clear imbalance in the relationship between the abuser and the victim.
David Gibbs, Chartered Legal Executive at Jordans Solicitors who represents victims of sexual assaults in pursuing CICA cases said, “We wholeheartedly support the demands of the various charities for the CICA Scheme to be reviewed. Clearly, children who are victims of sexual assault are unable to consent to such assaults and this is the very reason the Sexual Offences Act outlaws such crimes.
“Children who have been groomed have been brainwashed and manipulated into going along with the demands of their abusers. This is not consent and these people should be compensated for the horrific experiences they have endured.”
Our expert team of child abuse lawyers has vast experience of dealing with CICA claims and successfully appealing cases that have been rejected. If you have experienced difficulties with a CICA claim or want help in making a claim for compensation, please contact our child abuse lawyers on 0800 9555 094.