The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is facing a blast of bad publicity
20 February 2019
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is facing a blast of bad publicity following pressure by the Victim Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, who has said the compensation body are “re-traumatising” victims of violent crime.
The CICA is an agency of the UK Government and administers a compensation scheme for injuries caused to victims of violent crime in England, Scotland and Wales. Many people turn to the CICA as a last resort when other forms of compensation is unavailable to them or if they have attempted to pursue different routes, such as through criminal proceedings or bringing a civil action.
Baroness Newlove’s report outlines a scathing assessment of the CICA, stating that the application process is “highly traumatic”, often getting the victim to re-live the attack, as well as being asked to provide exact times, dates, addresses and intricate details of injuries including the exact measurement of wounds and scarring, along with providing photographs not only at the outset of an application, but repeatedly throughout the application process. This has been described as a “constant reminder of what we had to go through” by victims.
The CICA process includes gaining police reports and other evidence, so the “need for the victim to repeat their story on their application form is unclear”. Baroness Newlove further states in the report that the CICA “seemed calculated to frustrate and alienate”.
The CICA are an unregulated organisation who have no fixed time limits as to how long the application process takes. Some applications can take years, with the CICA often requesting repeat information or putting the onus on the applicant to pay for medical records or other evidence. More often than not, the CICA often dismiss cases even where there has been a significant injury, or where there has been a slight delay (sometimes a matter of a day or two) of reporting the matter to the police.
In 2017 the authority was investigated over concerns it had refused compensation to victims of child sexual abuse on the basis that they “consented” to the attack (see the BBC news article here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41429906). One rape victim had stated “The first 12 months after a traumatic incident are the worst. This is when a victim feels most alone and is most in need of support. And that is when the CICA seems least able to respond”. The victim rightly felt that the CICA hold very little importance to very sensitive issues and even though the CICA exist to help, they provide very little assistance and sensitivity to those in need and in fact make it more difficult for the victims of violent crime to come to terms with what they have been through.
We are of the opinion that the CICA scheme is in dire need of reform and most of all, regulation and accountability. Baroness Newlove’s report goes some way to address the issue and has suggested a more streamline and sympathetic process that with hope will lead to a more effective service.
We at Curtis Law are professional and tactful when it comes to addressing the issue of violent crime and regularly take the CICA to task over their often insensitive approach.
If you have been victim of violent crime and sustained injury in the past 2 years, get in touch and one of our dedicated team will be able to advise you and deal with your Criminal Injury case with professionalism and sensitivity. At Curtis Law, we are always on your side.
Baroness Newlove’s full report can be found here: https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/victimscomm-prod-storage-clhgxgum05k1/uploads/2019/01/CIC-report-FINAL.pdf