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3.16.5 Criminal Injuries Compensation

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The aim of this guidance is to ensure that Social Workers routinely consider making an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) on behalf of those Looked After Children who have suffered Physical Abuse or Sexual Abuse.

RELATED GUIDANCE

A Guide to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 issued by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, March 2013.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in May 2016. A new Section 3.1, Timescales was added to provide further clarity to the process. Reporting to the Police must be made as soon as practically possible.


Contents

  1. Considerations for Eligibility
  2. Making the Application
  3. The Process
  4. Outcome of the Application
  5. Accepting a Payment
  6. Reviewing Decisions
  7. Appealing Against the CICA's Decision
  8. Accessing CIC Funds Before the Young Person Reaches 18 Year


1. Considerations for Eligibility

  • The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme allows compensation to be paid to someone who has been physically or mentally injured (or both), as a result of violent crime. The injury must have happened whilst in Great Britain and must also be serious enough to qualify for the minimum tariff award;
  • To receive an award, an individual must have suffered an injury as a direct result of a crime of violence; sustaining an injury while taking an exceptional and justified risk while trying to remedy or prevent crime; sustaining a mental injury as a result of witnessing or being involved in the immediate aftermath of an incident in which a loved one is injured; or being a qualifying relative of a victim who has died of injuries caused by a crime of violence. There is no legal definition of the term ‘crime of violence’. It will usually involve a physical attack on the person, for example an assault, wounding or sexual offence. (Further guidance can be obtained from the CICA). However this is not always the case i.e. an injury arising from arson. The threat of violence may also, in some circumstances, amount to a crime of violence;
    • Generally an application will have to be made within two years of the date of the incident; however, applications can be accepted outside this two-year period if, as the scheme puts it, ‘it is reasonable and in the interests of justice to do so.’ In cases involving child abuse, the scheme may accept late applications:
      • Made on behalf of children, or made by children themselves when they reach 18 years, provided that the application is made within 2 years of the date when the child reached the age of 18 years, or from the date when the incident was first reported to the police;
  • The perpetrator does not have to have been convicted, or even charged, before an award can be made. However, it is advisable to report the incident to the police, but it is accepted that in cases of child abuse the incident may not be reported for a considerable period after the incident. If an incident has not been reported to the police and there is no good reason for doing so, it can be assumed the application for compensation will be rejected;
  • It is the general condition of the scheme that any person who causes an injury must not benefit from an award paid to a victim;
  • If an application is made by or on behalf of the child, there is also a need for the CICA to be satisfied that it would not be against the child's interests to make an award. An example might be if the child was very young at the time of the assault, and could be expected to make a full recovery and forget or not know that it had happened. That might be a better outcome than if an award were made, invested on their behalf and paid to them at the age of 18. This might make the young person remember the incident and cause considerable distress. Local Authority staff should be aware that this is a consideration which will be made by the local CICA;
  • An application on behalf of a child less than 18 years should normally be made by someone with Parental Responsibility for the child. Usually this person is one of the child's parents but if the child has been abused within the immediate family, this may be inappropriate;
  • If the child is Looked After by the Local Authority the scheme expects the application to be made by or on behalf of the Local Authority.


2. Making the Application

An application for compensation can be made in one of two ways: online, or by telephone to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. When making the application, the CICA will require the following information:

  • The full circumstances of the injury and how serious it was, including what injuries the child sustained.
  • How well the victim is recovering from it.
  • The time, date and location where the incident occurred.
  • The crime reference number.
  • The name and number of the police officer who dealt with the child's case.
  • The name and address of the police station where the officer is based.
  • The address and postcode of the hospital the child attended for treatment.
  • The full name and address of the child's GP.
  • The social worker should also send any independent supporting information with the application, such as medical or psychological reports. The social worker should also consider the effect further enquiries may have on the child.

Note:

Awards of compensation are usually paid as a lump sum. Advance payments can be made where it can be demonstrated that there is urgent need, or if CICA has been able to decide that the child is entitled to an award but their medical condition (and so the size of the award) is not yet certain.

If the child is Looked After and the Local Authority has Parental Responsibility, the CICA usually expect the Local Authority to be involved in managing the award, though it may be that this will be done through the child’s solicitor. Legal advice should be sought.

Adult individuals coming to the Department who claim to have been abused in the past, should be informed of their right to make a claim for Criminal Injury Compensation and refer them on to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. Free advice may also be available from organisations such as Victim Support and Citizens Advice Bureau

Similarly, in circumstances where a social worker becomes aware that the child may have a valid claim for criminal injuries, and that child is not Looked After, the parent of the child (or any person with Parental Responsibility) should be informed in writing of their right to make a claim for Criminal Injury Compensation on behalf of the child and refer them on to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority or voluntary organisations as above.

People may also wish to consult their own solicitor. Note, however, that they do not need a paid representative (for example, a solicitor or a claims management company) to make a claim. If they choose paid representation, the CICA will not meet the cost of this.


3. The Process

When the child becomes Looked After, a discussion needs to take place between the social worker and their manager, about whether an application for criminal injuries compensation is appropriate. The child's legal status will, at this point, be considered. Ordinarily, it is the person with Parental Responsibility who would make the application. If the child is Accommodated under Section 20, legal advice should be sought prior to a social worker making an application. This would be to consider situations such as the parent being implicated in the abuse, or where they have been judged as not being able to make the application.

If it is agreed, that an application by the Social Worker is appropriate, the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) should be advised. At the first review, the IROs will routinely consider this matter and revisit this at subsequent reviews, if appropriate. If the decision is made that the application is not warranted, this should be recorded within the child's record, along with the reasons for this decision.

In some circumstances, a decision may be made to defer making the application. (See Section 3.1, Timescales) This is likely to be in circumstances where there is additional expert information which is not yet available, but may become so in the future, to support the claim. This may include medical reports, regarding physical injury, as well as reports from CAMHS psychiatrist/psychologist, which may comment on the degree of harm suffered, and response to treatment/future prognosis.

Some young people may, for a variety of reasons, make historical allegations of abuse. It is important in these circumstances to follow this procedure: i.e. the social worker should support the young person in making a complaint to the police and thereafter note the crime reference number, name of officer and all relevant details required to submit an application. As such allegations can be made at any time during the child’s journey in care, it is important for all social workers, managers and IROs, working with Looked After children, to be aware of this policy and the processes involved in making an application.

In consultation with their manager, the social worker may also decide to approach a private solicitor, who specialises in criminal injuries compensation claims. This would be particularly relevant in situations which are deemed complex, or where an application has been refused and it is felt that an appeal should be made. In these circumstances, there are issues of confidentiality and it is important for the social worker to obtain, where the child is of an age and understanding, their views about this person, (who is not a social worker or employed directly by the Local Authority), having access to their files. In exceptional circumstances, young people may request that an alternative person act on their behalf in making the application. An example might be a young person asking the Children’s Rights Advocacy Service to support them with this matter. In these situations, it is important for the social worker to record, on the child’s file, that this process has been agreed by all parties.

3.1 Timescales

Applications should always be made as soon as possible and in general, must be made within 2 years of the event giving rise to the claim. However, where the applicant was under 18 at the time of the incident special provision is made regarding timescales as follows:

  • If the incident or period of abuse was reported to the police before the young person turned 18, a claim will be accepted up to the young person’s 20th birthday;
  • If the incident or period of abuse took place before the young person turned 18, but was not reported to the police at the time, a claim will be accepted within two years of the date when the incident was first reported to the police.

All incidents must be reported to the police before a claim can be made to the CICA.

Reports to the police should be made as soon as is reasonably practicable.

No matter how long ago the abuse took place, it should be reported to the police before a claim can be made. If it has not been reported to the police, then the CICA will reject the claim.


4. Outcome of the Application

The CICA will advise the applicant if a claim is successful. Legal advice should be sought to confirm whether it is appropriate to accept the award or whether it is appropriate to seek a review of the decision. The award must be accepted within 56 days or a written request made for a review or extension of time. (See Section 6, Reviewing Decisions).

The CICA may extend the 56-day time limit for up to a further 56 days. Only one such extension may be allowed.


5. Accepting a Payment

The acceptance form must be completed and returned within 56 days of it being sent. If it is not returned within 56 days, and no written request has been made for a review, a payment will not be made.

If the payment is accepted, the CICA will then normally put the money in an interest-earning deposit account in the child’s name, the payment to be paid to the child (together with all interest earned) when they reach 18.

The CICA may consider requests to make payment into a Child Trust Fund/Junior ISA or another type of account where the full value of the payment is protected until the child is 18 years old. See Junior Individual Saving Accounts for Looked After Children (DfE Guidance).


6. Reviewing Decisions

If the award is not considered appropriate, a written request can be made within 56 days for the decision to be reviewed by another claims officer, using the review form sent with the decision.

The 56-day time limit may be extended for up to a further 56 days if there are exceptional circumstances which mean that you could not have complied with the time limit. A request for an extension can be made even if the first 56 days have passed.

Any additional supporting evidence should be enclosed.

A different claims officer will review the original decision. The review decision can be more or less favourable than the original decision, or the original decision may be unchanged.


7. Appealing Against the CICA's Decision

Appeal is through the Tribunals Service - Criminal Injuries Compensation (TS).

A review decision can be challenged by appealing, within 90 days of the date of the review decision, to the First-tier Tribunal (Criminal Injuries Compensation). An appeal form will be sent with the review decision. The form and supporting evidence should be sent to:

First-tier Tribunal (Criminal Injuries Compensation)
Wellington House
134-136 Wellington Street
Glasgow
G2 2XL

The appeal tribunal may make a decision that is more favourable or less favourable than the review decision, or the review decision can stay the same.


8. Accessing CIC Funds Before the Young Person Reaches 18 Years

It is usual for this money to be made available to the young person when they reach their majority. The CICA may allow advances if these are needed for the child’s sole benefit, education or welfare. There is scope for discussion to take place, if the young person wishes to access the fund for a specific purpose, prior to their becoming 18. It is expected, however, that any request will be purposeful, supportive of the young person's aspirations and development and not simply a means of providing income support. Such requests need to be made to the relevant Head of Service/Service Manager and a decision regarding outcome recorded on the child’s file.

If the CICA receive evidence that it would not be in the child’s best interests to be given the payment as a lump sum at age 18, they may consider the use of an annuity or a trust at that time.

End