Survivors of violent and sexual crime are being re-traumatised by the Government’s compensation body, according to a report.
A recent review by Baroness Newlove, Victims Commissioner, has found that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is needlessly forcing victims to repeat traumatic details in order to make a claim. Many victims also reported that the scheme was proving to be so stressful that it was re-triggering trauma with survivors of violent crimes asked to constantly repeat their story, and often facing delays, uncertainty and poor communication.
The CICA is a scheme that is open to people who have suffered violent crimes that take place in England, Wales or Scotland and can provide awards of up to £500,000. Claims can be brought for physical injury, sexual or physical abuse, loss of earnings and the death of a relative. That financial support can help victims access counselling or improve safety measures around their home.
The process of applying for an award from the CICA includes the need to provide details of the crimes against them including, times, dates and addresses amongst other specific details. On the process, Baroness Newlove stated:
“evidence demonstrates that completing this part of the CICA application form is highly traumatic as it re-triggers memories of the incident.”
“Yet, in every case, the CICA apply to the police for a full copy of the victim statement and reports so the need for the victim to repeat their story on their application form is unclear.”
The review also found that three in five victims spoken to were not aware of their entitlement to claim.
“This raises a question as to whether there are potentially thousands of victims who fail to claim compensation simply because they are unaware of the compensation scheme,”
“Some victim service providers make the point that the level of detail required from victims is unethical, given current knowledge about the negative effects of continually asking victims to repeat their story.”
In a joint statement, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan; the Chief Officer of Victim Support, Diana Fawcett and; Liberty’s Advocacy Director, Corey Stoughton, said:
“We have long been campaigning for an overhaul of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS), so we back the Victims’ Commissioner’s recommendation and urge the Government to immediately review the CICS to make it work for victims, rather than against them.”
“The Commissioner’s review highlights how victims of horrific crimes like child sexual abuse find the process of trying to claim compensation so stressful that it can re-trigger their original trauma. This is a complex scheme which has seen young sexual abuse victims blamed for their abuse.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said:
“While no amount of compensation can make up for the immense suffering endured by victims of violent crime, we are committed to ensuring that they receive the help and support needed to rebuild their lives.
“We take this duty very seriously, which is why, as part of our victims’ strategy last year, we pledged to look at the difficulties faced by some when applying for compensation – announcing a review of the scheme to ensure it supports them better.”
“The review will report back later this year and will consider the points raised by the victims’ commissioner.”
The review engaged more than 200 victims, as well as Police and Crime Commissioners, victim support services, criminal justice agencies and lawyers.
At Jordans Solicitors we can help those who have been victims of violent crime and believe that they should be compensated for their injuries. We have experienced lawyers available to provide you with advice. We have offices in Dewsbury, Horsforth, Selby and Wakefield.
If you or a relative has been the victim of violent crime and would like to consider making a claim for compensation, please contact our personal injury team free on 0330 300 1103 or request a call back and a member of our team will contact you.