The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme was introduced in November 2012. It aimed to focus compensation on those with more serious injuries and to avoid giving compensation to claimants who are not blameless victims. In addition it wanted to help the close relatives of victims who have died as a result of violent crime. However it has been criticised for restricting claims by lowering awards for some injuries, for ending compensation for minor injuries, and for placing restrictions on those convicted of a crime even though the crime had nothing to do with the incident which caused their injury. It also attracted criticism for using statutory sick pay as a method of determining claims rather than using the actual losses suffered by a claimant, and for restricting the residency criteria.
Length of Time to Make A Claim
A claim should be made within two years of the date of the incident. Where the victim is a child the claim must be made before their 20th birthday.
1. In order to qualify for compensation an applicant must show that they have tried to gain compensation elsewhere including applying for state benefits, suing the assailant and claiming through insurance.
2. An applicant, at the time of the incident, must have been resident in the UK and be either a British citizen or a close relative of a British citizen, a member or a close relative of a member of the Armed Forces, a national of a Member State of the EU, or of the European Economic Area or a family member of such a person. A national of a State party to the Council of Europe Convention on the Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes would also qualify. In addition if the applicant is resident in the UK, they may also qualify because they have been a potential victim of human trafficking or have been granted temporary protection, asylum or humanitarian protection, as a result of an application for asylum.
3. A claim cannot be made if the assailant and the applicant were living together in the same family at the time of the incident, unless they are no longer doing so and are unlikely to be living together in the future.
4. If the assailant may benefit an award may not be made.
5. To qualify for compensation, injuries must meet certain criteria. They must be the result of the applicant having been a victim of a violent crime in a relevant place. (Relevant place is defined as anywhere in Great Britain, on a British-controlled aircraft or hovercraft or on one of Her Majesty’s aircraft or hovercraft, or in a lighthouse off the British coast. A relevant place also includes Her Majesty’s ships or a vessel which is owned by a British citizen or a corporate body whose principal business is in the UK or on, under or above an installation in a designated areas as defined by s.1(7) of the Continental Shelf Act 1964 or in any waters within 500 metres of it.)
Alternatively the injury could have been the result of the applicant preventing a crime, apprehending an offender or suspected offender, containing or remedying the consequences of a crime or helping a constable undertaking any of the above. It must have involved an exceptional and justified risk and not an act which the applicant would normally have carried out as part of his or her’s job.
6. A crime of violence is defined as either a physical attack, a sexual assault where there was no consent, arson or fire-raising, a threat that causes fear of immediate violence or any other act or omission of violence which causes physical injury.
7. A claim worth less than £1000 will no longer qualify. However where a person has had time off work they can apply to a Hardship Fund which can offer financial help for up to 25 days. To be eligible the applicant must have been unable to work for at least 7 consecutive days, be ineligible for statutory sick pay or an equivalent payment, earn less than £107 per week and he or she should not have any unspent convictions which have given rise to a custodial sentence or community order.The applicant must have applied for help within 4 weeks of the incident occurring and they must have reported the incident within 48 hours to the police.
8. A qualifying relative of a person who has died as a result of violent crime may be eligible to a bereavement payment.
‘Qualifying relative’ includes a child of the deceased, the spouse or civil partner of the deceased who was living with the deceased in the same household, the partner of the deceased as long as they had been living with them for a continuous period of at least two years, or a person who satisfied the criteria above but did not live with the deceased because of either party’s ill-health or infirmity. ‘Qualifying relative’ also includes a spouse or civil partner, or a former spouse or civil partner who was financially dependent on the deceased. The payment will be capped at £5500 where more than one relative qualifies. A child who was a dependent of the deceased may receive £2000 for each year up until the child’s 18th birthday, plus any expenses which the child may have incurred due to the loss of their parent. A dependency payment may also be due to other relatives who were physically or financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death. A payment of between £2500 and £5000 may be made to cover funeral expenses.
A relative may be eligible for a payment covering the deceased’s loss of earnings subject to an upper limit of £500,000.
There are a number of different payments that can be made.
Injury payments cover physical and mental injuries, fatal injuries and physical and sexual abuse injuries. If an applicant has sustained more than one injury they will not receive the full tariff amount for each injury. They will receive the full amount for the injury which gives rise to the highest payment. Second and third injuries are scaled down to 30% and 15% respectively. No payments are made for third and subsequent injuries.
Loss of earnings payments will be paid where the applicant was in paid work at the time of the incident and had been in regular paid work for three years prior to this or had a good reason for not having been in regular paid work, for instance they were on maternity leave. The award will be made where the applicant is capable of very little or no paid work. Payment is only made after 28 weeks of loss of earnings. It finishes either when the applicant can work again or when they reach state pension age or, if the injury has reduced their life expectancy, the expected end of the applicant’s life, whichever is the earliest.
The compensation will be based on statutory sick pay but can include future loss of earnings as well as past loss of earnings.
There are a number of grounds on which an award will not be made or will be reduced. These include where the incident which caused the injury was not reported to the police as soon as was reasonably practicable, where the victim has not cooperated sufficiently to bring the assailant to justice or where an applicant has specific convictions or sentences excluded from rehabilitation under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
The amount of a award will be reduced if the victim gains criminal injuries compensation or similar, or receives an order for damages from a civil court, agrees the settlement of a damages claim or receives a compensation offer or offer during criminal proceedings.
Similarly an award may be withheld or reduced if the character of the applicant is inappropriate.