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Criminal Injuries Compensation

Anyone who has been the victim of a crime of violence and has suffered a physical or psychological injury as a consequence, may be entitled to apply for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

A Scheme for compensating victims of crimes of violence was first established in 1964. The Scheme is run by the UK Government and applications are processed by a specialist agency known as the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). It was formerly the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB).

As the government frequently change the rules of the scheme, we cannot guarantee that these pages will be completely up to date. This website is not designed to replace proper legal advice, as is a guide only to the current law.

For a comprehensive explanation of the schemes both past and present, go to the Ministry of Justice website.

Questions & Answers

To qualify for an award of compensation, an Applicant must have sustained a “criminal injury” which was directly attributable to a “crime of violence”.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Schemes define what a crime of violence means, but in general terms a “crime of violence”, this will usually include a physical assault, arson, and sexual abuse (including rape, buggery and other indecent assaults).

“Criminal injury” is defined by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as meaning “an injury of a physical or mental nature”.  This will include shock, psychological disturbance or psychological anxiety, which is directly linked to the crime of violence. It also includes injuries caused when apprehending a crime, assisting the police apprehend a crime, or preventing a crime.

For more comprehensive advice, contact us. You can also read up on the scheme by going to the Ministry of Justice Website

To apply for compensation, it is necessary to complete a standard application form, which requires information about the person making the application for compensation, details of the crime/assault, details of the nature of the injury received as a consequence of the assault and other general information to enable the “CICA” to make their enquiries.

The scheme itself and a handyguide to the scheme can be obtained online from the Ministry of Justice website. The application process is now exclusively an online process, which involves filling in a form over the internet. If you attempt the process yourself, then make sure you have all the relevant information available before  you start.

Once the form has been completed, the CICA  then begin to make their enquiries of any relevant bodies such as the police in particular

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme requires that any claim made on behalf  of a person under the age of 18 years should be made by an adult who has “parental responsibility” for the child. Usually the most appropriate person to act would be one of the child’s parents. However, if the child was abused within the immediate family, this would not be appropriate. If there is no appropriate adult to act, then often the Official Solicitor may act for that child.

Once an application for compensation has been submitted to the CICA, the CICA will conduct enquiries in order to identify the full circumstances in which the injury occurred and the extent of the damages.  By submtting the Criminal Injuries application form, the Applicant gives authority to the CICA to obtain information from the Applicant’s doctor, the Police and from any other  sources, including hospitals etc.  The CICA will obtain confirmation from the Police as to the circumstances of the crime and confirmation from the Applicant’s doctor as to the nature of the injuries.

Often, it can assist the CICA if the Applicant has obtained independent supporting information, for example from an independent medical expert such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The CICA will then determine whether the Applicant qualifies for an award, and if so, how much compensation will be offered.

It is not necessary for the person who committed the crime to be convicted of any offence before an award of compensation can be made.  Some offenders are never found.  In other cases, the Police may not charge the offender with any crime, often for reasons of evidence.  In other cases, even where a person has been charged with an offence by the Police, they might not be convicted of the crime at Court.  In each of these cases, the victim of the crime might still be awarded compensation from the CICA.

The CICA, however,  will withold an award of compensation if the victim of the crime did not take all reasonable steps to inform the Police of the crime, without delay, with a view to bringing the offender to justice.

This provision is seen by the CICA as a safeguard against fraudulent claims and is applied strictly in the case of adults.

Where the victim of the crime, however, was a child who might be too young or too frightened to appreciate the right course of action, the CICA will often take a more sympathetic view.

In all cases, the CICA must be satisfied “on the balance of  probabilities” that the crime actually occurred and this would be much easier to prove if the Police have been informed and have been given the opportunity to investigate and prosecute.

Any claim for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme must be received by the CICA within 2 years of the date of the incident/assault/the crime.

This time limit will be applied strictly by the CICA, however, in cases involving child abuse, the CICA can adopt a more sympathetic approach and might allow a claim to proceed outside the 2-year time limit where it is considered that “due to exceptional circumstances it could not have been made earlier”, and the application can be made without extensive enquiries by the claims officer.

Any claim for compensation should be made as soon as possible after the incident occurred or, in the case of children, within 2 years of them reaching the age of 18 ie by the age of 20. The CICA have taken a sympathetic attitude in many claims however,
where it appears that, the application has been submitted outside of the usual time limits. There must however now be “exceptional circumstance, and each application is at the discretion of the CICA

Any claims for compensation relating to incidents which occurred before 1964, (the date when the Criminal Injuries Scheme was first established), will be rejected by the CICA.

Family Cases: special provisions

Special conditions apply in “family cases”. Where the crime occurred before 1 October 1979, an earlier Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme applied which precluded compensation from being paid if the victim of the crime and the offender were
living together as members of the same family

The scheme has since improved, and since 1 October 1979, where the victim of the crime and the offender were living in the same household as members of the same family at the time of the assault, the CICA will award compensation but only if the applicant and the assailant no longer live together and are unlikely to do so again.

No amount of money can adequately compensate any victim of sexual abuse. The amount of compensation awarded by the  Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is generally a token payment and is usually a much lower amount of compensation than the victim of the crime might expect to recover, if they took legal action through a Civil Court.

The amount of compensation awarded by the CICA is determined by reference to a “tariff of injuries”, which is periodically  updated. The amount of compensation is usually awarded as a lump sum payment, however, occasionally interim compensation  payments can be made where there is a pressing need or where the prognosis is uncertain.

The amount of compensation is assessed based upon the type of abuse suffered by the victim of the crime and different levels of compensation will apply depending upon whether the abuse was a single isolated incident or whether the abuse followed a persistent pattern, taking place over a period of years.

If the CICA determine that the applicant is eligible, the minimum amount of compensation payable under the present CICA tariff scheme is £1,000, which will be payable to the victim of a minor indecent assault. The maximum amount of compensation  payable to the victim of serious sexual abuse, including rape and buggery, resulting in serious internal bodily injury with permanent disabling mental illness confirmed by psychiatric prognosis is £44,000.

However, in cases involving sexual abuse, which have resulted in the victim suffering a serious mental illness, for example a Post Traumatic Disorder, it might be appropriate to apply to the CICA for compensation for that psychological  injury, rather than for compensation of the physical act of abuse, as this might result in a larger award of compensation.

The CICA will recognise a “mental injury” if it is so diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist

Mental Injury does not include temporary mental anxiety and similar temporary conditions.

A mental injury is disabling if it has a substantial adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities for the time specified (e.g. impaired work or school performance or effects on social relationships or sexual dysfunction).

In the case of Applicants where there have been a series of assaults (either sexual, physical or both) over a period of time, an Applicant might qualify for compensation only for the single most recent incident if, in the relation to the earlier incidents,  he/she failed to report them to the Police without delay and/or failed to co-operate with the Police in bringing the assailant to justice. Where the Applicant is entitled to compensation for the series of  assaults, he/or she will qualify for an award as the victim of a pattern or abuse, rather than for a separate award for each incident.

Following the revision of the CICA Scheme in April 2001, any victim of sexual assault/abuse taking place after April 2000 might be entitled to an additional award of compensation where the sexual assault/abuse resulted to that victim contracting a sexually transmitted disease, became infected with HIV/AIDS or where the assault resulted in pregnancy.

The current scheme divides the tariffs into two tables – Part A  contains Physical & Mental Injuries, whereas Part B details Sexual & Physical Abuse and Other Payments

It is also possible to claim other expenses such as loss of earnings/capacity, but only after there has been a continuous absence from work for more than 28 weeks. Awards can be made for past and future loss of earnings. Special expenses such as the cost of plastic surgery, loss of specific items, cost of care can be awarded by the CICA in addition

For a full and comprehensive list of tariff awards, and more detailed guidance on the scheme, go to the Ministry of Justice Website.

Once the CICA have considered the application for compensation, they will notify the person submitting the application, or their representative, of their determination of the application.

Where the application has been refused, it might be possible to request that the reason for refusal is reviewed/appealed.  This might be appropriate depending upon the reasons for the CICA refusing to make an award of compensation.

Similarly, if the CICA make an award of compensation but the amount/level of compensation is incorrect, the applicant can ask for a review/appeal.

Each case will depend upon its own facts.

On requesting the CICA to review their decision, the decision will usually be considered first of all, based upon the Applicant’s written submission/reason for disagreement with the decision.  Thereafter, if the CICA do not change their decision, the matter may proceed to an Appeal hearing when the Applicant will be required to attend before a CICA Appeal panel in their local area to make any representations. It would usually be appropriate to seek legal advice in these circumstances.

In any event, there is a strict time limit for appealing a CICA decision/requesting a review and this time limit is not extendable, except in exceptional circumstances.

The process of completing the application for Criminal Injuries Compensation is fairly straightforward.  However, the rules relating to whether a person may qualify for compensation and how much compensation they receive can be quite complex, depending upon the facts of the case.

If a case happened many years ago and is out of  the usual time limits, then the process is not straightforward, and needs careful argument.

It is always advisable to seek legal advice before making any claim.

The Application forms are free and can be filled in online. Although paper forms have been abandoned, it is possible to ask for telephone help by phoning the CICA themselves. The number is available online if the number quoted in this site is out of date – 0300 003 3601.

There is no fee payable for submitting an application and the CICA do not charge any costs for carrying out their investigations into the application.

The CICA will not pay for any legal costs incurred in submitting an application or appealing against a CICA decision.  Further, Legal Aid is not available to pursue an application for Criminal Injuries Compensation unlike in pursuing a claim for compensation through the Civil Courts.  Accordingly, anyone seeking legal representation in pursuing a Criminal Injuries Compensation Application will usually be required to pay for any legal advice they obtain.  The legal costs involved in pursuing any application for Criminal Injuries Compensation should be discussed with that person’s solicitor at the outset, before the application is submitted.

Where a person is eligible for Criminal Injuries Compensation, it usually always advisable to submit an application to the CICA, even if that person is also considering or is in the process of suing for compensation in the Civil Courts.

The process of suing for compensation in the Civil Courts can be very complicated, can take many years and due to a variety of possible risk factors, might not always result in a successful claim for compensation.  By contrast, the process of applying for Criminal Injuries Compensation is relatively straightforward and is usually  quicker than the Civil Court system.  The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme might therefore result in a victim of crime recovering compensation, albeit a more modest amount of compensation, where they might not otherwise receive compensation through the Civil Courts or through other channels.

Where a person, however, is awarded compensation through the Criminal Injuries Scheme, and they later recover compensation through the Civil Courts or from another source in relation to the same incident, they will usually be required to repay the CICA the full amount of any compensation they were awarded through the CICA Scheme, out of any compensation they received through the Civil Courts. Usually the civil courts will award far larger sums. It is advisable to pursue both civil claims and CICA claims, even though you may be required to repay the CICA award.

There is no doubt that the criminal injuries compensation scheme does not provide adequate compensation to victims of sexual abuse. However, the scheme can be a very useful source of compensation to many victims who might otherwise not be entitled to compensation through the civil courts or from any other source.

Further, even where an offender has not been convicted of an offence, the CICA in awarding compensation to the victim, can offer an invaluable ‘recognition’ that a crime has been committed.

Whilst not everyone may qualify for an award of compensation under the CICA scheme, it is always worth considering making a timely application.

 

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