APCC Portfolio Leads for Victims response to reports that sexually abused children could still be refused compensation by a government body on the grounds that they “consented”.
APCC Victims Lead Dame Vera Baird QC PCC said:
“We have been clear that there are a number of rules under the current Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme which need to change as a matter of urgency. At the current time the scheme fails to compensate victims and survivors of some of the most serious sexual offences.
“Back in July we called on the Justice Secretary, and repeated calls with officials over the summer, to close this loophole which impacts on the ability of significant numbers of children who were, to the law and to any observer clearly victims of sexual exploitation or abuse, to claim compensation. It is our firm belief that this is something for which the Government has to take responsibility for.
“There are three areas in particular that we have brought to the Minister’s attention, how consent is defined in sexual offence cases, the flexibility of the two year rule and the ‘same roof rule’.
“On the issue of consent, the law here is clear, there can be no issue of consent for victims who have been groomed where that person is under the age of 16. However, as we have stated previously, we currently have a situation where an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice’s public position is that a child can “consent” to sexual activity with an adult. We do not regard this as acceptable in any way.
Deputy Victims Lead, Marc Jones PCC added:
“It is our understanding that the draft revised guidelines criticised this week in The Guardian are not those of the Ministry of Justice but the current Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme itself, and they continue to leave open the prospect refusals of compensation to blameless young victims. There is an urgent need for change to remove this risk entirely.
“Currently, the signal sent out to victims, who have not felt able to come forward to report crimes, is shockingly negative and totally undermines trust in the system that they will be believed and protected.”