Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims Portfolio Lead at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners has called for urgent changes to the way in which the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICA) deals with child and adult victims of sexual abuse and grooming.
In a letter to the Justice Secretary, David Lidington, Dame Vera has called for urgent changes to the Scheme’s rules in order to fulfil its role of compensating blameless survivors of sexual violence.
The current definition used by the scheme essentially means that the CICA are equating grooming with “consent” and accordingly refusing applications where the victim/survivor was groomed, even though the law is clear and there can be no issue of consent where a person is under the age of 16.
In her letter, Dame Vera also draws attention to the two year rule and the 1979 ‘same roof rule’. The APCC Victim’s lead believes that the general rule that an application must be received within two years of the incident does not reflect the reality of the survivors/victims’ experience of sexual assault and the Criminal Justice System. In addition, the ‘same roof rule’ prohibits any victim/survivor living with their abuser as a member of the same family at the time of the sexual assault/s from claiming compensation if the offence took place before 1 October 1979.
Dame Vera Baird said:
“There are a number of rules under the current Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme which are simply not fit for purpose and are failing to compensate victims and survivors of some of the most serious sexual offences.
“Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the current Scheme is how consent is defined in sexual offence cases. 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, in effect, we currently have a situation where an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice’s stated public position is that a child can “consent” to sexual activity with an adult. Simply unacceptable.
“In addition, it is clear that the two year rule needs to be more flexible to better reflect the reality for victims within the criminal justice system and the ‘same roof rule’ needs to be amended as those currently denied compensation, including children, have experienced some of the most devastating abuse often in their own homes.
“The Justice Secretary needs to look at these rules as a matter of urgency to ensure that victims of these truly heinous crimes are not denied compensation.”