New compensation scheme for victims of terrorism
Victims of terror atrocities at home and overseas are to benefit from a new dedicated compensation scheme under government plans to boost the support offered to people injured by violent crime.
The proposals aim to better address the particular needs of victims and their families following a terrorist incident, and ensure applications are processed as rapidly as possible.
The changes follow a commitment to improve the compensation process following the Manchester Arena Terror Attack, and support the Government’s wider review of the support available to terror victims, including families and loved ones, to ensure more victims get the support and advice they need, faster.
The plans form part of a package of reforms ministers are pursuing through a consultation launched yesterday (July 16) which seeks to improve the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) – making the scheme simpler and more transparent, while ensuring it keeps pace with the changing nature of crime.
Justice Minister Alex Chalk said: “All too recently we’ve witnessed the devastating effects of terrorism, which is why this government is determined that victims get the support they need to rebuild their lives.
“While no amount of compensation can ever make up for the suffering they’ve endured, our reforms will ensure the system for claiming awards better reflects the needs of victims, and that applications are processed as rapidly as possible.
“But this is only one part of our plans to boost the support available for people injured by violent crime. We are simplifying the scheme making it easier to understand, as well as increasing pay-outs for bereaved families.”
The CICS provides compensation to victims injured by violent crime as public acknowledgement of their suffering, paying out more than £130 million last year – making it one of the most generous of its kind in the world. This includes £11 million to victims who were previously barred from accessing compensation under the pre-1979 ‘same roof’ rule – which blocked victims from receiving compensation if the attacker was a family member they were living with at the time of the incident – after it was scrapped by the Government last year.
The Government says the latest moves build on a commitment to “improve the support on offer at every stage of the justice system” outlined in the first-ever cross-government Victims Strategy, as well as a raft of reforms to protect victims and pursue perpetrators, including:
- A 50 per cent increase in funding for victims of sexual violence;
- Consulting on a new Victims’ Code setting out what support victims should expect from the justice system;
- Improving court environments, with new victim-friendly waiting areas and an emphasis on accessibility for the most vulnerable; and
- Extending the Unduly Lenient Sentence so more victims and the public can have sentences reconsidered by the Court of Appeal.
The Government’s announcement follows a comprehensive review, which found that for the vast majority of applicants the CICS was working well, with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, which operates the scheme, reporting a 95 per cent customer satisfaction rating.