Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger has joined calls for a review of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICA) and the way it treats victims of sexual abuse.
The current system has been called into question by Victims Portfolio Lead at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Dame Vera Baird, in an open letter to Justice Secretary David Lidington.
As it stands, the CICA scheme refuses applications where the victim/survivor was groomed - essentially aligning grooming with ‘consent’ - despite the law stating that there is no issue of consent when a person is under 16.
Mr Coppinger is particularly concerned by the 1979 ‘same roof rule’, which prevents a victim/survivor from claiming compensation if they lived with their abuser as a member of the same family, if the offence took place before 1 October 1979.
Similarly, Mr Coppinger feels that the rule that an application should be received within two years of the incident doesn’t take account of the reality of the criminal justice process or the victim/survivor experience.
PCC Barry Coppinger said: “It’s become quite clear that these particular rules under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme are letting victims of sexual abuse down and failing to compensate them following the most horrific of crimes.
“There needs to be an urgent review of the way the scheme defines consent in sexual violence cases. At the moment, these out of date rules dangerously equate grooming with “consent” despite the law being very clear that there is no issue of consent for children under 16.
“The “same roof rule” is denying compensation to those who have experienced horrific abuse in their own homes, often for many years. The two year rule must be updated to better acknowledge the victim experience within the criminal justice system which can often remain on-going beyond the two year deadline – a traumatic and stressful experience in itself.
“Partner agencies have informed me about cases where victims here in Cleveland have fallen foul of these out-of-date rules and the Ministry of Justice must urgently look at them to ensure victims are fairly compensated.”
The ‘same roof rule’ is currently undergoing a legal challenge by Teesside Law Clinic. Andrew Perriman, Senior Lecturer in law at Teesside University, who runs the clinic has also been campaigning for a change to the scheme.
He said “This rule can no longer be justified, especially for victims of historic sexual abuse. To deny victims the right of recognition under the scheme is simply arbitrary and discriminatory and the rule should be abolished.”
Posted on Wednesday 2nd August 2017