There was uproar earlier this year when it emerged that hundreds of victims of child sex abuse had missed out on compensation because they had ‘consented’.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) was widely criticised after figures revealed more than 700 youngsters had been refused pay-outs.
Now, the Victims’ Commissioner has revealed CICA is to be investigated over claims it has failed victims.
Baroness Newlove, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said compensation had a “critical role” to play in helping victims of serious crime recover.
Her investigation, which will begin in early 2018, will look at how well the CICA works “for vulnerable victims”.
The Ministry of Justice estimates around 30 cases a year have been refused compensation on consent grounds. Figures from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), seen by the BBC, also show
180 child sex abuse victims have been refused compensation since 2015 because they lived with a family member who abused them.
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.
Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield previously 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”.
Charities and campaign groups have echoed Ms Longfield’s calls, urging that the rules are changed so no child groomed and manipulated into sexual abuse is denied compensation because they complied with their abuse through fear, lack of understanding.
An MoJ spokesperson said: “We want to make sure every victim gets the compensation they deserve.
That’s why CICA are reviewing their staff guidance to ensure that every instance where grooming could be a factor is identified.
“CICA are also actively engaging victim support groups and relevant charities with specialist knowledge in this area to make sure the revised guidance is as robust as it possibly can be.”
How can our Personal Injury lawyers help?
Gotelee welcomes the investigation into CICA – but the probe is long overdue. No amount of money can heal the trauma of child sexual abuse but it can provide closure and recognition of what happened.
Refusing payouts on the grounds of consent is simply wrong and changes must be made.
If you have suffered abuse, Gotelee Solicitors’ specialist team of Suffolk lawyers can provide sensitive care and expert guidance if you would like to bring civil claims.
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.