Government to carry out a full review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme
Just a few months ago the Justice Secretary announced a full review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
It currently does not reflect the ‘changing nature of crime’. It is considered that it could support victims much better if reviewed.
Triggered by a landmark case in July 2018 where a woman challenged and successfully overturned one element of legislation relating to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, the announcement of the review sparked much conversation on what exactly will be reviewed and why.
Questions were answered quickly as just one day after the announcement the plans were released in the first ever cross-government Victims Strategy.
The strategy coordinates the extensive support available for victims of crime and focusses support and services for the individual.
The review intends to improve access to compensation and consider how the scheme can support victims better. There will be focus on victims of child sexual abuse, mental health and terrorism.
Of particular interest in the review is unspent convictions.
The scheme currently automatically excludes awards where the applicant has an unspent conviction that resulted in a specific sentence including custodial sentences.
Additionally, it is suggested the rules currently disproportionately impact vulnerable victims of mental health or victims of child sexual abuse.
Also affected by the review will be claims relating to terrorism. The recent increase of terror attacks which have affected many people, leaving some with life changing injuries, prompted an interest in the suitability of the scheme in providing support to victims of terrorism.
Additionally, with crimes of terrorism the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority advises a one year waiting period for resolution of their case, provided there are no exceptions. The waiting period can often negatively affect the mental health of victims and will further add pressure on mental health services at a time when resources are seriously depleted.
Since so many victims of terrorism being left with mental health complications, the Authority have proposed the review the suitability of their scheme in supporting victims of terrorism.
The review is ongoing and is expected to report this year with recommendations for reforms.
For Swain & Co Solicitors, the review will have a huge impact. The Personal Injury team work with many victims that are affected by the Scheme and any changes that may come from the review. Setting guidelines for lawyers to work by the Scheme has created uncertainty surrounding the claims that might be covered by the Authority and those that will not.
“We will continue to work with victims of crime and their applications to the CICA. It remains appropriate, in my opinion, to involve lawyers in this process to ensure that maximum compensation is awarded.”
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