Campaigners are urging the Government to rethink guidance that could see victims of child sexual abuse miss out on compensation on the grounds that they ‘consented’.
The new rules, drawn up by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), have attracted widespread criticism, with Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield warning the guidelines are “failing victims”.
It is illegal to have sexual activity with a person under 16 but CICA does not automatically make compensation payments to all victims. The government body began a review of its guidelines in July when it emerged that almost 700 child victims had been denied payments.
However, the revised guidance, seen by a number of support charities, could still result in child survivors being denied compensation due to alleged consent.
Ms Longfield urged the Justice Secretary David Lidington to look again at the rules to ensure victims “receive recognition that they were not to blame, that their lives have been severely affected and that they deserve some compensation to try to rebuild their lives”.
She said: “Why is this happening? Put simply, some victims are not receiving compensation because CICA is applying guidelines that assume they consented to sex, even if their abuser has been jailed.
“That is simply unacceptable. The law is clear – the age of consent is 16.”
The NSPCC says it will also write to CICA to express its concerns.
The revised guidance cites a number of examples of claims it suggests were not clear-cut, including the case of an 18-year-old who was successfully prosecuted for having sex with a 13-year-old child.
A CICA spokesperson said child sexual abuse was “abhorrent”, adding: “Our guidelines are designed to make sure that controlling and abusive behaviour is taken into account when handling compensation applications. We want to be sure that we never get these decisions wrong.”
How can Gotelee help?
The effects of child sexual abuse or exploitation are usually lifelong. Compensation may not heal wounds but it can provide closure and recognition of what happened.
Gotelee Solicitors have a specialist team of Suffolk lawyers who can provide sensitive care and expert guidance to people who may wish to bring civil claims as a result of sexual abuse in their past.
The Suffolk law firm, which has offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Melton, Hadleigh and Woodbridge, is partnered with Ipswich charity Survivors in Transition (SiT) to help guide victims through the process. SiT aims to empower survivors to take control of their lives and cope better with the daily effects the abuse has left them with.
Gotelee is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, which help to bring together a team of experts, including doctors, counsellors, psychiatrists and specialist barristers.
To find out how we can help you, contact us on 01473 298125.