November 2012 articles archive:

Under recent changes, some victims of crime will no longer be eligible for compensation.

The Ministry of Justice has been reported as saying “it (the Home Office) is dedicated to preserving compensation to the most seriously-injured victims of crime".

In a response to questions about the proposed curtailing of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, the Ministry of Justice has been reported as saying “it (the Home Office) is dedicated to preserving compensation to the most seriously-injured victims of crime".

"But where less serious injuries have been caused, we believe taxpayers' money is better spent providing support and help rather than what are often small payments well after the crime has been committed.”

One wonders about the foundation for such a belief given the extent of the representations made by unions such as the Shopworkers' union, MPs and not least by Victim Support themselves, the national charity concerned with supporting the victims of crime.

Under recent changes, violent crime victims who suffer minor injuries will not get compensation as a result of cut backs to the scheme which have come into effect in England, Wales and Scotland. These changes took effect on the 27 November 2012. Whether you can apply for assistance or not depends upon your eligibility under the government's criminal injuries compensation scheme.  .

According to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority's own pages on the Ministry of Justice website you can apply if you have been injured seriously enough to qualify for at least their minimum award (£1,000) and you were injured in an act of violence in England, Scotland or Wales. Apparently an offender does not necessarily have to have been convicted of, or even charged with, that crime. 

Interestingly the changes are to take place following a Parliamentary debate which was literally just days before the election of the first Police and Crime Commissioners on the 15 November.

Shadow Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Sadiq Khan, moved an Opposition day debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday 7 November stating “that this House affirms its commitment to the blameless victims of violent criminals who suffer physically, emotionally and financially from the injuries inflicted upon them; recognises that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is the fund of last resort for much needed compensation for these blameless victims and is relied upon by many thousands of victims each year....” A surprisingly heated debate followed in which the question of whether there would be any refocussing of the scheme on serious injuries was raised.

The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damien Green, also entered the affray pointing out “At the beginning of this year, the Government launched a consultation, “Getting it right for victims and witnesses”, which set out a wide-ranging and ambitious reform package that will see us move from the previous one-size-fits-all model for supporting victims, with priority being given instead to the victims of serious crime, to the most vulnerable and to the most persistently targeted. Our reforms will also see police and crime commissioners using their local knowledge to ensure that victims get the services they need.....” This latter aspect seems to have been lost on many voters who complained that they did not know very much about the candidates and what difference they would make. It seems as though someone ought to have told the potential Commissioners!

Damien Green went on to add that “There will, for example, be an increase in the use of restorative justice. There will also be a new victims code setting out clearly what victims should expect from the criminal justice system—not least that they should always be treated with dignity and respect.”

Time will tell.


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