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Reforms to compensation for criminal Injuries

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a Government organisation which makes compensation awards to victims of violent crime. The scheme was first introduced in 1964, making it the oldest of it’s type in the world.

Over the decades the scheme has been updated on several occasions with the latest scheme being introduced on 27th November 2012. This version has been met heavily with criticism for the restrictions it has introduced to the eligibility to the scheme and the cuts within it. The Government ignored the opposition from all sides and proceeded to implement the changes, without any amendment, as a means of trying to reduce spending.

As a victim of a violent crime, it is extremely rare that you will be able to recover any form of compensation from the assailant; nor do the criminal courts make any significant award. The CICA therefore plays an important role. Compensation is awarded using a tariff system with a maximum award of £500,000 for the most serious of injuries. Under the new scheme awards start from £1000 for moderate injuries. This is a change which has seen compensation for minor injuries removed altogether and the remaining awards significantly reduced to approximately half of what they previously were.

There have always been strict eligibility requirements to receive an award of compensation from the CICA. For example, the crime must be reported as soon as reasonably possible and the victim must fully co-operate with any police investigation and prosecution. Under the former agreement it was sufficient for the victim to have reported the matter to an “appropriate body”, such as an employer if the violence took place at work. This is no longer the case and it must now be reported to the police in all the circumstances.

One of the most significant changes relates to the recovery of any loss of earnings suffered by the injured party as a result of the injuries sustained. It has been the case for a number of years that the initial 6 months loss of earnings could not be recovered and this remains the case. However, now, awards for this loss will only be made to those with no or limited ability to work, who were in paid work at the time of the accident and had been for 3 years immediately before (allowance will be given to those not meeting this criteria for good reason such as being in full time education.) Even if these criteria are met, compensation will then be based upon the relevant rate of statutory sick pay rather than the victim’s actual pre-incident earnings.

It is apparent that these changes have restricted access to compensation for innocent victims who are arguably entitled to it, in a society where we ideally look after those in need. However, the cost of the scheme has reportedly trebled since 1997 and it is said to be in the red by approximately £250million. To continue without restriction would therefore ultimately be likely to result in asking for more money from the taxpayer which in these already difficult times would not be received well either.

Harris Fowler has a team of specialist personal injury solicitors who can advise anyone who has suffered an injury as a result of a violent crime.

Free and confidential legal advice is available on 0800 213 214 or visit  harrisfowler.co.uk

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