Solicitor, Lee Dawkins, says that sex abuse victims should not be made to suffer twice for the crimes committed against them
The CICA (Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority) has hit the headlines for reducing the compensation of over 400 victims of sex abuse because of their history of criminal offending.
Although the CICA is entitled to take unspent convictions into account, our fear is that they are confusing cause and effect.
Our experience as solicitors specialising in sex abuse law and criminal injury claims is that victims of abuse often offend as a consequence of the terrible abuse they have suffered. Their offending (commonly involving drink, drugs or violence) is therefore a symptom of the abuse and it is quite wrong to use it as an excuse to reduce the compensation they are entitled to.
In addition to those that have had their compensation reduced it is believed there are many more whose applications have been rejected altogether on the basis of their criminal offences.
When challenged about the iniquity of a scheme that penalises victims for conduct arising from the very abuse they are claiming compensation for, the Ministry of Justice said there were no plans to review the CICA scheme.
The CICA’s decision to refuse or reduce compensation is supposed to reflect the harm the applicant has caused other people and cost the taxpayer’s money that has been wasted by the resulting prosecution.
Whilst this thinking might be appropriate for some CICA claims, the scheme really should disregard criminal behaviour that has only occurred as a result of the original crime against the victim, especially where there is expert evidence to support this.
The CICA scheme is often the only opportunity abuse victims have to recover compensation for the life changing impact sexual abuse can have. It’s important therefore to deal with victims fairly and not to apply a rule in circumstances where the result is manifestly unjust.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority need to urgently review its procedures to ensure that sex abuse victims are not discriminated against and made to suffer twice for the crimes perpetrated against them.
If you wish to make a CICA claim or have an award reviewed then call our free legal helpline on 0800 037 8020.
Alternatively you can contact solicitor Lee Dawkins by email at firstname.lastname@example.org