The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a UK Government Scheme designed to compensate innocent victims of violent and/or sexual crime.
In a recent article, we reported that Baroness Newlove is carrying out a review of the Scheme and found that the present process was causing applicants additional distress and often had a detrimental impact on their mental well-being.
Pressure is now mounting on the Government to overhaul the Scheme in relation to how victims of child sexual abuse are treated.
At present victims whose abuse may have led them to criminal activity are denied compensation under the Scheme if their conviction is unspent at the time of the application. Victims who may have been “groomed” into performing sex acts online but not physically assaulted do not qualify for compensation and victims of child sexual abuse can be disqualified from the scheme on the basis that the victim may have consented “in fact”. This fails to recognise that under the law a child under the age of 16 is legally unable to give consent to a sexual act.
Suggested sex abuse compensation rule changes
A cross party group of MPs led by Sarah Champion MP for Rotherham, say that the Government should publish a revised compensation scheme “without delay” to deal with rules which unfairly prejudice victims of child sex abuse. Amongst their proposals are measures to:
- Abolish the unspent convictions rule for survivors of child sex abuse
- Abolish the two year time limit for application for compensation for sex abuse and violent crimes
- Recognise that children cannot legally consent to their sexual abuse and that, therefore, they cannot be disqualified from the Scheme on the basis that they “consented”.
- Extend the definitions of sexual abuse under the Scheme to include non-contact forms of child sex abuse.
In a recent BBC news article, Sarah Champion MP said that:
“The whole scheme needs comprehensive reform so that victims and survivors are put at the centre of the process, because, right now, it is all about saving the government money not supporting people to rebuild their lives…..”