Government urged to review Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority scheme

By James Pickles, Paralegal, Child Abuse department

On 23rd January 2019, the BBC reported criticisms made about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) in a review by the victim’s commissioner, Baroness Newlove.

The Newlove Review

The Newlove review states that the process of applying for compensation through the CICA forces applicants to revisit traumatic events from their past. The CICA’s questionnaire requires applicants to provide details of the incident for which they are applying. The report argues that this information could be gathered from requests made by the CICA to the police or medical professionals (for example) when they evaluate an application.

Baroness Newlove’s other recommendations include a review into the CICA’s rules regarding applicants with previous convictions. The review also recommends that more should be done to make victims aware of their right to apply to the CICA for compensation.

Here at Switalskis, we work with clients to fully support them through the duration of the CICA process. While we require some information from clients, our expertise means that we understand how difficult it can be to revisit past traumas and we therefore try our best to use other sources to obtain details on behalf of our clients.

The CICA Application Process

The CICA application process can be lengthy and it can be difficult to gather information from the CICA. It is my view that at present, the CICA are not transparent enough about the work they carry out in progressing applications for compensation and the way in which decisions are made. The CICA should provide more frequent updates to applicants as this would no doubt alleviate some anxiety.

The application process should be made more flexible, allowing applicants to provide information to the CICA without reliving past traumas. The CICA has recently been criticised for the so called “same roof rule” (where applicants were denied compensation if they lived with their abuser as part of the same family prior to 1st October 1979), which has now been overturned by the courts, and their inappropriate handling of cases where applicants who were victims of sexual abuse were groomed and were then said to have “consented” to their subsequent abuse.

There is no doubt that the CICA does have a long way to go in understanding sexual abuse and the real effect of the application process on survivors but, due to the strength of survivors lobbying, we are beginning to see changes in the attitude of the CICA and the way that they deal with applications.

It remains to be seen how this review will influence the CICA in the future. There is currently an ongoing review into the CICA being carried out by the Ministry of Justice. The function of the CICA and how it deals with applicants is also being considered by the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

It is hoped that future reform will enable survivors of sexual abuse, along with all applicants to the CICA, to make successful applications and receive the compensation to which they are entitled without being forced to re-live harrowing memories causing them to become re-traumatised.

The child abuse lawyers at Switalskis have a long and positive track record of handling applications to the CICA on behalf of people who have suffered sexual abuse. If you need confidential legal advice call us on 01924 882000 or email david.greenwood@switalskis.com

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice, and the law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice on their own particular circumstances.