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Changes Proposed to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS)

Monday, 6 February 2012

CICS, administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, exists to compensate blameless victims of violent crime. The scheme originally set up in 1964 is free and can currently make awards from £1,000 to £500,000. However, budget cuts mean savings have to be made and reform has been proposed. The government estimates that approximately 20,000 awards valued at nearly £75m have been made to criminals over the last ten years; one major source of cost that has been targeted.

The current rules, introduced on 3 November 2008 require that:

  • The injury is serious enough to qualify for the minimum compensation of £1,000,
  • The injury was a result of violence in England, Scotland or Wales (the offender does not need to have been convicted or charged), and
  • The application is made within 2 years of the injury (with some limited exceptions).

Grounds where awards may be refused:

  • The behaviour of the victim before, during or after the incident causing injury,
  • The victim has criminal record,
  • Failure to cooperate with the police or CICA, or
  • A delay in reporting the incident.

Controversial awards have been made under the current rules. In one case a convicted rapist was awarded £62,000 and, in another, £500,000 was awarded to a man still in jail.

Proposed Changes

Awards are expected to be reduced across the board - minor injuries will be excluded and more serious injuries face reduced payouts. Most significantly, criminals with unspent convictions will be prevented from making claims at all with limited exceptions for minor offences (victims convicted of shoplifting for example). Prisoners or other injured criminals will have to make a civil claim rather than using CICS. In addition, offenders will also face the following financial penalties:

  • An increase to the victim surcharge (an extension of the current system to prisoners or offenders receiving community orders),
  • Larger motoring fines, and
  • Contributions towards victim services deducted from prison or day release work pay.

Changes to CICS appear likely but it is important that genuine claimants are not put off. If you would like further information about the eligibility of a claim or wish to discuss a potential or current claim, we have experienced lawyers on hand who can give you sound legal advice. Please contact Sarah Vincent by email or by telephone 020 7611 4848.