Criminal Injuries Compensation
If you have suffered an injury as the result of a biphobic, homophobic or transphobic attack, sexual violence or domestic abuse you may be entitled to financial compensation from the government. This section tells you about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Claim and how Galop can help you.
What is a criminal injuries claim?
If you are a victim of a violent crime and suffer physical injury or mental trauma as the result of an attack you may be eligible for a financial award – this is called criminal injuries compensation. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is funded by the government and is administered by an organisation called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). Under the Scheme, each type of injury is given a financial value depending on the seriousness of the injury. CICA use this to calculate the total award.
What you can/cannot apply for
Criminal injuries claims cover a wide range of injuries. The minimum payment for a single injury is £1,000 and the maximum payment for a single injury is £250,000. A claim can not usually be made for a single ‘less serious’ injury, such as a graze or small bruise. However, if you have suffered at least three ‘less serious’ injuries, such as cuts, a black eye, or severe bruising you could be eligible for an award for ‘multiple minor injuries’.
You can not claim for mental trauma alone (i.e. where there was no physical injury). However, there are different rules about claiming criminal injuries following sexual violence (see below).
In certain circumstances you may also be entitled to additional payments for loss of earnings, if for example, you are unable to work for more than 28 weeks. CICA can also award special expenses, such as help with care costs.
Who is/isn’t eligible?
Anyone who has suffered an injury as a result of being a victim of a violent crime in England, Wales or Scotland can apply. You do not have to be a British citizen but the criminal injuries scheme does not apply to incidents that took place outside Great Britain. However, the criminal injuries compensation scheme does have specific criteria that you need to consider
What are the other criteria?
- Normally you would have to make a claim for an injury that happened within the last two years unless there were circumstances where this was not possible, such as suffering abuse in childhood. Investigations and trials about sexual violence often take more than two years and can cause difficulties when applying for compensation. In this case it is advisable to get independent advice and advocacy.
- You must have suffered a physical injury or a disabling mental injury which can be medically verified (i.e. by a medical professional such as a doctor or consultant). There are separate rules about evidence when sexual violence is involved (see below). For a more serious mental trauma CICA will need a psychiatric diagnosis.
- Your injuries have to be serious enough to qualify for the minimum compensation award (see above).
- Usually you need to have reported the incident/crime to the police (though sometimes there may be exceptions such as reporting to another organisation). However, you are still eligible to make a claim whether or not the perpetrator was charged.
- CICA will not pay an award if there is a continuing close link between you (the victim) and the offender and it is likely that the offender would benefit from your award. For example, if you were living with a partner or family member who inflicted the injury on you. The consequences of this rule on those who experienced child sexual abuse is being challenged; seek independent advice if this affects you.
- CICA may take your own behaviour or conduct into account when deciding whether to award you compensation. For example, you may be refused an award (or get a reduced amount) if you have a recent criminal record or a criminal conviction that resulted in a 3+ year sentence, even if unrelated to the assault you are applying for.
- CICA will also check that your behaviour did not contribute to the incident where you got your injuries. This might include if, for instance, you acted aggressively or threateningly in a manner that was likely to provoke an attack or the use alcohol/drugs had contributed to the incident.
- Finally CICA may also consider the degree to which you co-operated with the police and other agencies before, during and after the incident relating to your claim.
Claims about sexual violence
CICA has recently brought in new rules affecting claims from victims of sexual violence. This is in recognition that sexual violence is a traumatic experience which causes mental injury, regardless of physical injury. CICA now uses a two-stage process to assess claims in this instance:
- If a claimant has reported the sexual violence to the police and there are no additional issues to take into account, then CICA can undertake a quicker assessment relying solely on the police report, without seeking additional medical evidence.
- If a claimant’s case is more complex or involves a more severe or long-lasting mental injury, there is a more thorough assessment process which requires medical and psychiatric evidence.
You might want to get independent help to decide which option to take.
How can you apply?
You don’t need a paid representative such as a solicitor to apply for criminal injuries compensation. You can apply directly to CICA yourself, either online or by post. Online is easier and quicker (go to www.gov.uk/government/organisations/criminal-injuries-compensation-authority). CICA can also provide advice on how to complete the form (tel: 0800 358 3601). If your case is complex or you feel it would be distressing to have to liaise with CICA, then an independent third party organisation can act as your agent, such as Victim Support or Galop.
How can Galop help?
Some LGBT people may want to get help with their criminal injury claim from an LGBT organisation. If you live in the London area and have suffered a biphobic, homophobic or transphobic assault, sexual violence or domestic abuse, Galop can provide advice and assistance with your claim. For example, a Galop advice worker can help you:
- fill in the CICA application form
- act as your representative
- contact CICA about the progress of your application and advocate on your behalf
- provide a letter to support your claim
- assist with an appeal, or sign-post you to specialist legal advice.
What happens after you apply?
Once your claim is submitted CICA will list all the necessary evidence that is needed to assess your claim. This includes confirmation from the police that you were a victim of a violent crime and a criminal conviction check. CICA may also need to contact your doctor and/or other medical specialist who can verify your injuries. Any claim for loss of earnings or special expenses will also need to be verified. When CICA have all the evidence it will be assessed by a Claims Officer who will decide on the case based on the ‘balance of probabilities’. This means that their decision is based on what is more likely to have happened than not have happened. Once CICA have made a decision they will contact you (or the agency representing you).
If your claim has been successful you have 56 days in which to tell CICA that you accept the award. Usually you will be sent a single ‘lump sum’ as payment.
How long does it take to assess a claim?
The length of time to assess a claim can vary depending on the circumstances of each case. CICA has to contact other agencies such as the police or hospitals to gather information and make an assessment. Sometimes it can take a long time to gather all the information necessary and Galop has found that it is not uncommon for applicants to wait for between twelve and eighteen months for a decision from CICA, and in some cases even longer than this. Appealing a decision will also take additional time. Once CICA receive someone’s acceptance of an award, then the payment usually follows within two to three weeks.
Can you appeal a decision by CICA?
If you are refused an award and disagree with this decision, or you disagree with the amount you have been awarded, you can apply to CICA (within 56 days of notice of their decision) for a review. You will need to supply a reason why you disagree and further evidence to support your claim. If you are still not satisfied with the outcome of the review, you can appeal to the Tribunals Service dealing with Criminal Injuries Compensation which is independent of CICA – though you might need specialist advice by this stage.
shoutline: 020 7704 2040
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)
helpline: 0800 358 3601
(Updated: Oct 2017)