The Victim Support charity, an independent body that help the public recover from the effects of crime, today published a groundbreaking report demanding reform to the criminal justice system. The report is entitled Victim of the System and it paints a rather depressing picture.
Among the recommendations discussed were a raft of key changes to the compensation process managed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). Many of the rules that form part of the compensation scheme administered by the CICA are known to be unfair and in some cases unjust, particularly so when dealing with victims of sexual abuse.
The charity has levied criticism against the government and focuses on a number of particularly contentious areas that need urgent reform. As a legal firm helping victims of abuse on a daily basis we fully support the views and suggestions promoted within the report.
Amongst the concerns raised, the following issues were highlighted:
Tight deadlines to apply for compensation should be relaxed. Many victims miss out on applying for compensation because the 2 year window that applies in many cases is too narrow.
The 1979 Same Roof rule should be abolished
The CICA should not refuse or reduce awards because a victim has fallen into petty crime sustaining a conviction, very often as a direct result of the mental health issues arising from abuse
The harsh way the CICA interpret "consent" needs tackling particularly when dealing with cases of grooming and abuse for those older than 14 but under 16 the formal age of consent.
The slow manner of the claims process does not help victims to move on, it merely adds to their suffering in many instances.
CICA’s own data reveals that almost a fifth of cases (18.5%) remain unsettled within two years and 6.7% of the CICA caseload was submitted prior to the introduction of the current Scheme in 2012. In over a third of cases (35.7%) victims wait more than a year for a decision.
Whilst the government is now focusing only on winning the 2017 General Election, we have to hope at some stage in the future, the recommendations within this groundbreaking report will be considered and implemented. We applaud the work completed by the Victim Support charity.