Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
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|Ministry of Justice|
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is an executive agency of the UK Government. The Authority, established in 1996 and based in Glasgow, administers a compensation scheme for injuries caused to victims of violent crime in England, Scotland and Wales. It is funded by the Ministry of Justice in England and Wales and the Justice Directorate in Scotland. The current Chief Executive is Carole Oatway.
Since the scheme was set up in 1964, the Authority and its predecessor, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, have paid more than £3 billion in compensation, making it among the largest and most generous of its type in the world.
However, it has been criticised on occasions for failing to provide adequate compensation to victims of serious crime, particularly people seriously injured as a result of crime, rape victims and the parents of murdered children.
It has also been criticised for claiming that the applicant was a contributor to the incident from which they sustained their injury, and in cases of murder or manslaughter that the deceased had contributed to his or her own death; on this basis its compensation payouts to claimants have been reduced to lower amounts and it has even refused to pay any compensation at all in some cases. It has also refused to pay compensation to families bereaved by crime if the deceased had any criminal convictions.
Since the closure of its London office, CICA has employed 450 civil service staff from the Scottish Government and the Ministry of Justice in an office in Glasgow to process and decide on applications for compensation from victims of violent crime. Each year, some 65,000 applications are received and nearly £200 million is paid in compensation payments.
Until 1996, awards were set according to what the victim would have received in a successful civil action against the offender. However, since April 1996, the level of compensation has been determined according to a scale set by Parliament. The scheme and the 1996 tariff were revised in 2001, 2008 and 2012. The tariff has descriptions of more than 400 injuries; each is attached to one of 25 levels of compensation between £1,000 and £250,000. In certain cases, victims may also apply for financial loss compensation (for example, through loss of earnings or medical care costs).
The 2012 scheme
In January 2012, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke proposed further reforms to the scheme. There was cross-party support for altering the Scheme to compensate victims of overseas terrorist attacks. However, there was criticism of proposals to end compensation awards for certain minor injuries, a lowering of the tariff award for many injuries and for applying more severe reductions to awards for people who have been convicted of a crime.
The 2012 scheme came into force on 30 September 2012 and applies to all claims received on or after 27 November 2012. It is less generous than previous schemes, with certain minor injuries removed altogether and others reduced in value. Residency criteria now mean that most applicants must be ordinarily resident in the UK, or a British or EU citizen. The rules on criminal convictions are more restrictive in that having an unspent criminal conviction that resulted in a prison sentence will mean automatic rejection, no matter what the offence. And claims for loss of earnings, previously always based on the applicant's actual losses up to a maximum of one-and-a-half times the national average wage, are now assessed entirely at the rate of statutory sick pay regardless of the applicant's actual losses. The total maximum award for a claim remains at £500,000, a figure that has remained unchanged since the original tariff scheme in 1996.
The cuts in compensation are described by the CICA's Chief Executive in the annual report as being "designed to put the Scheme on a more sustainable financial footing by removing awards for people with the least serious injuries and focusing awards on victims with more serious injuries". A guide to the 2012 scheme is available on the Ministry of Justice website.
The rules in the Scheme are complex and are explained in the guide to the scheme.
Injuries claimed for must have been caused by a 'crime of violence'. Annex B of the 2012 scheme sets out what this means. The first step is to establish that a crime has been committed. Whether it is a crime of violence is a more complex issue but the most typical examples are assault, murder, rape and sexual abuse. It is possible to claim for psychological injury resulting from witnessing an attack on someone else, in very limited circumstances.
The time limit for claiming compensation is two years from the date the injury occurred. There are slightly different rules in the case of applicants who are children, or who were children when they were injured. The time limit may be extended in exceptional circumstances but is treated very strictly. Ignorance of the existence of the scheme and the availability of compensation is not usually accepted as an excuse for a late application.
Residency criteria, introduced for the first time in Paragraphs 10 to 16 of the 2012 Scheme, restrict eligibility to those who are ordinarily resident in the UK, or are one of the following:
"(a) a British citizen;
(b) a close relative of a British citizen;
(c) a national of a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area;
(d) a person who had a right to be in the United Kingdom by virtue of being a family member of a national of a member state of the European Union or the European Economic Area;
(e) a national of a State party to the Council of Europe Convention on the Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes (CETS No. 116, 1983);
(f) a member of the armed forces; or
(g) an accompanying close relative of a member of the armed forces."
Compensation may be reduced or withheld altogether from applicants who: - contributed to or caused the incident in which they were injured - failed to co-operate with the police or prosecuting authority - failed to or delayed in reporting the incident to the police - failed to co-operate with the CICA in handling their claim - have one or more unspent criminal convictions
it is also possible for decision makers to refuse claims on the basis that the victim still lives with their assailant, or that the assailant may benefit in some way from their award. In the latter case it is usually possible to overcome this issue by placing the award in a trust.
Until 1 October 1979 compensation was denied to those who were injured by someone with whom they lived together as members of the same family, even if they ceased living together thereafter. This rule was retained in all subsequent Schemes, and continues to restrict eligibility for historic cases. It has been challenged several times in the courts without success. At the time of writing in May 2014 an appeal is in progress by an applicant represented by Andrew Perriman of Teesside University assisted by student members of the Teesside Law Clinic on grounds of age discrimination.
- Carole Oatway at linkedin.com
- Annual Report and Accounts 2012-13
- "Compensation for UK victims of terrorism abroad", BBC News, 30 January 2012
- Ministry of Justice, The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012
- Home Office, The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, 1995
- Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, A guide to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012, 2013