Frequently Asked Questions
An Applicant must have suffered a "criminal injury" that was directly traceable to a "crime of violence" in order to be eligible for compensation.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Schemes determine what constitutes a crime of violence, but in general, a "crime of violence" includes physical assault, arson, and sexual abuse (including rape, buggery and other indecent assaults).
"Criminal injury" is defined under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as meaning "an injury of a bodily or mental kind". This includes shock, psychological disturbance, or psychological anxiety, all of which are directly related to violent crime. It also includes injuries sustained while apprehending a criminal, supporting authorities in apprehending a criminal, or preventing a crime.
Please contact us for more detailed guidance. You can also learn more about the scheme by visiting the the Ministry of Justice Website.
To apply for compensation, a standard application form must be completed, which requires information about the person making the application for compensation, details of the crime/assault, details of the nature of the injury received as a result of the assault, and other general information to allow the "CICA" to conduct their investigations.
The scheme itself, as well as a convenient guide to the scheme, are available online at the Ministry of Justice website. The application process is now entirely online, involving the completion of a form via the internet. If you undertake the process yourself, be sure you have all of the necessary information before you begin.
Once the form has been completed, the CICA will proceed to contact any relevant bodies, including the police.
Any claim lodged on behalf of a person under the age of 18 must be made by an adult who has "parental responsibility" for the child, according to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. Typically, one of the child's parents would be the most suited person to act. This would not be appropriate, however, if the child had been harmed inside the immediate family. If no appropriate adult is available, the Official Solicitor may often act on behalf of the child.
There are certain circumstances that will prevent you from making an application. One example is unspent convictions. The CICA are likely to refuse or reduce a payment if you have a criminal record, even though you may have been blameless in the incident which resulted in your injury. All unspent criminal convictions at the date of application and before a final decision is made are taken into account.
In general, the more serious the sentence received, and the more recently it was given, the longer the conviction will take to be spent. If you do have a previous criminal conviction it is important to advise us of this prior to an application being made so we can discuss this part of the scheme with you.
Other circumstances include:
- The act was not a crime of violence eg internet grooming
- Failure to co-operate with the police,
- If the offence took place before 1964.
We can advise you in much more detail in relation to the above if you get in touch with us.
Whenever a claim for compensation is submitted to the CICA, the CICA will conduct investigations to determine the complete circumstances of the injury and the amount of the losses. By submitting the Criminal Injuries application form, the Applicant grants the CICA permission to receive information from the Applicant's doctor, the Police, and any other sources, including hospitals. The CICA will seek confirmation from the police regarding the circumstances of the crime, as well as confirmation from the Applicant's doctor regarding the extent of the injuries.
If the Applicant has secured independent supporting information, such as from an independent medical expert such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, it can often help the CICA.
The CICA will next decide whether or not the Applicant is eligible for an award and, if so, how much compensation will be provided.
It is not necessary for the perpetrator of the offence to be convicted of any crime before compensation can be awarded. Some criminals are never apprehended. In other circumstances, the police may decline to charge the criminal, frequently for lack of evidence. In other circumstances, even though a person is charged with a crime by the police, they may not be convicted of the crime at trial. In any of these instances, the victim of the crime may still be eligible for CICA compensation.
The CICA, on the other hand, will withhold an award of compensation if the victim of the crime did not take all reasonable steps to notify the police of the crime as soon as possible in order to bring the culprit to justice.
The CICA regards this provision as a safeguard against false claims and firmly applies it to adults.
Where the victim of the crime is a child, who may be too young or too terrified to understand the proper course of action, the CICA will typically take a more sympathetic stance.
In all circumstances, the CICA must be satisfied "on the balance of probability" that the crime occurred, which is considerably easier to prove if the Police are informed and have the opportunity to investigate and prosecute.
If the victim/survivor of abuse is over the age of 18, any application for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme must be received by the CICA within two years of the initial day the incident/assault is reported to the police. If you are under the age of 18, you have until the age of 20 to apply, which is two years after you reach the age of majority.
The CICA will strictly enforce this time limit; however, in cases involving child abuse, the CICA may take a more sympathetic approach and allow a claim to proceed outside the 2-year time limit if it is determined that "due to exceptional circumstances, it could not have been made earlier," and the application can be made without extensive inquiries by the claims officer.
Any claim for compensation shall be lodged as soon as practicable after the occurrence happened, or within two years of the child attaining the age of 18, i.e. by the age of 20. The CICA has been receptive in many disputes, but it appears that the application was submitted outside of the customary time restrictions. There must now be "extraordinary circumstances," and each application is reviewed at the CICA's discretion.
The CICA will reject any claims for compensation relating to occurrences that occurred prior to 1964 (the year the Criminal Injuries Scheme was founded).
Special Provisions for Family Cases
In "family cases," special rules apply. If the incident happened prior to October 1, 1979, a previous Criminal Injuries Compensation Plan was in effect, which prohibited compensation from being granted if the victim and perpetrator were living together as members of the same family.
From 1 October 1979, the CICA has awarded compensation where the victim of the crime and the perpetrator were living in the same household as members of the same family at the time of the assault, but only if the applicant and the assailant no longer live together and are unlikely to do so again.
No amount of money will effectively compensate a sexual abuse victim. The amount of compensation paid by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is normally a token payment and is usually far less what the victim of the crime could expect to collect if they took legal action in a Civil Court.
The amount of compensation paid by the CICA is based on a "tariff of injuries" that is revised on a regular basis. The amount of compensation is normally awarded as a lump sum payment; however, when there is a pressing need or the prognosis is unknown, interim compensation payments may be made.
The amount of compensation is determined by the type of abuse suffered by the victim of the crime, and varying levels of compensation apply depending on whether the abuse was a single isolated occurrence or a recurring pattern that occurred over a period of years.
If the CICA determines that the applicant is admissible, the minimum amount of compensation payable under the current CICA tariff structure is £1,000 for a minor indecent assault.
However, in cases of sexual abuse that have resulted in the victim suffering from a serious mental illness, such as Post Traumatic Disorder, it may be appropriate to apply to the CICA for compensation for that psychological injury rather than compensation for the physical act of abuse, as this may result in a larger award of compensation.
The CICA will recognise a "mental injury" if it is so diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist
Temporary mental anxiety and other similar temporary conditions are not considered mental injuries.
A mental injury is considered disabling if it has a substantial adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal daily activities during the time stated (e.g. impaired work or school performance or effects on social relationships or sexual dysfunction).
In the case of Applicants who have been subjected to a series of assaults (either sexual, physical, or both) over a period of time, an Applicant may be eligible for compensation only for the most recent incident if, in relation to the previous incidents, he/she failed to report them to the Police promptly and/or failed to cooperate with the Police in bringing the assailant to justice. If the Applicant is entitled to compensation for a series of assaults, he or she will be eligible for an award as a victim of a pattern or abuse rather than a separate award for each event.
Following the revision of the CICA Scheme in April 2001, any victim of sexual assault/abuse occurring after April 2000 may be entitled to additional compensation if the assault resulted in the victim contracting a sexually transmitted disease, becoming infected with HIV/AIDS, or resulting in pregnancy.
The current scheme divides the tariffs into two tables: Part A covers physical and mental injuries, while Part B covers sexual and physical abuse, as well as other payments.
It is also possible to claim other expenses such as loss of earnings/capacity, but only when there has been a continuous absence from work for more than 28 weeks. Awards can be issued for both past and future earnings loss. In addition, the CICA may award special expenses such as the cost of plastic surgery, the loss of specific items, and the cost of care.
Go to the Ministry of Justice Website for a complete list of tariff awards as well as more specific information on the scheme.
Once the CICA have considered the application for compensation, they will notify the person submitting the application, or their representative, of their determination of the application.
Where the application has been refused, it might be possible to request that the reason for refusal is reviewed/appealed. This might be appropriate depending upon the reasons for the CICA refusing to make an award of compensation.
Similarly, if the CICA make an award of compensation but the amount/level of compensation is incorrect, the applicant can ask for a review/appeal.
Each case will depend upon its own facts.
On requesting the CICA to review their decision, the decision will usually be considered first of all, based upon the Applicant’s written submission/reason for disagreement with the decision. Thereafter, if the CICA do not change their decision, the matter may proceed to an Appeal hearing when the Applicant will be required to attend before a CICA Appeal panel in their local area to make any representations. It would usually be appropriate to seek legal advice in these circumstances.
In any event, there is a strict time limit for appealing a CICA decision/requesting a review and this time limit is not extendable, except in exceptional circumstances.
The application for Criminal Injuries Compensation is relatively simple to complete. Yet, depending on the specifics of the case, the regulations governing whether a person is eligible for compensation and how much compensation they receive can be fairly complex.
If a case occurred many years ago and is outside of the ordinary time constraints, the process is difficult and calls for careful argument.
It is always best to get legal advice before filing any claim.
The application forms are free to use and may be completed online. Although paper forms have been phased out, it is still possible to get telephone assistance by calling the CICA directly. TIhe telephone number is 0300 003 3601. If this page is out of date, please check online .
There is no fee for making an application, and the CICA does not levy any fees for conducting its investigations.
The CICA will not reimburse any legal fees incurred in filing an application or appealing a CICA decision. Furthermore, unlike pursuing a claim for compensation through the Civil Courts, Legal Aid is not available to pursue a Criminal Injuries Compensation case. As a result, anyone seeking legal assistance in pursuing a Criminal Injuries Compensation Claim will almost always be required to pay for any legal advice received. The legal fees associated in pursuing any Criminal Injuries Compensation case should be agreed with that person's solicitor before the application is submitted.
If a person is eligible for Criminal Injuries Compensation, it is always desirable to file an application with the CICA, even if that person is simultaneously thinking about or is in the process of suing for compensation in the Civil Courts.
The process of litigating for compensation in the Civil Courts can be quite complex, might take many years and due to a range of probable risk factors, might not always result in a successful claim for compensation. In comparison, asking for Criminal Injuries Compensation is a reasonably simple process that is frequently faster than the Civil Court system. The Criminal Injuries Compensation System may thus result in a victim of crime getting compensation, albeit in a smaller sum, where they would not otherwise receive compensation through the Civil Courts or other channels.
However, if a person is awarded compensation through the Criminal Injuries Scheme and later recover compensation through the Civil Courts or another source in relation to the same incident, they will usually be required to repay the CICA the full amount of any compensation awarded through the CICA Scheme, out of any compensation received through the Civil Courts. Typically, civil courts will award far bigger sums. Even if you are obliged to repay the CICA judgement, it is best to pursue both civil and CICA claims.
There is little doubt that the criminal injuries compensation plan does not grant enough compensation to victims of sexual abuse. Yet, the plan can be a very important source of compensation for many victims who would otherwise be unable to obtain compensation through the civil courts or any other source.
Furthermore, even if an offender has not been convicted of an offence, the CICA can provide vital "recognition" that a crime has been committed by paying compensation to the victim.
While not everyone may be eligible for compensation under the CICA scheme, it is always worthwhile to consider making a timely application.