Charities demand compensation for sexually abused children

18 July 2017

Sexually exploited children are being refused compensation by a Government agency on the grounds they ‘consented’ to their abuse, reveals a charity coalition.

Their findings out today show child sexual abuse victims as young as 12 are being denied compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), even if their attackers have been jailed.

The charity coalition, which includes Barnardo’s, Victim Support and Liberty, has written to the Justice Secretary David Lidington, demanding the government urgently reviews CICA’s guidelines.

Since the CICA scheme launched in November 2012 nearly 700 child victims of sexual abuse have been refused payments ranging between £1,000 and £44,000, according to a freedom of information request by the charity coalition.

While the law states it’s a crime to have sexual activity with someone under the age of 16, this is not reflected in compensation decisions. Payment rules are being interpreted to suggest children can consent to their abuse. 

The coalition is calling for the rules to be changed so no child groomed and manipulated into sexual abuse is denied compensation because they complied with their abuse through fear, lack of understanding, or brainwashed into believing their abuser loved them and developing feelings for them.

And new YouGov polling for the campaign shows two thirds of people (66%) think the rules should be amended so a child cannot be found to have 'consented' to activities involved in their sexual exploitation

In one shocking example, a girl who saw a gang of older men jailed for 30 years after being raped and sexually assaulted when she was 14 had her case taken up by Victim Support but was denied compensation by CICA on the grounds that ‘she had not been the victim of non-consensual sexual acts.’ She was left devastated feeling that she was somehow responsible for the abuse she’d suffered.

Director of Liberty, Martha Spurrier said:

“Grooming is brainwashing – perpetrators manipulate children into situations that look like consent. No child can consent to abuse, which is why the criminal law rightly says they are simply unable to do so.

“For a state agency to tell children who have survived these horrific crimes that they did consent – and deny them compensation – is a disgrace.  The Government must urgently change these guidelines.”

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

“For children to be denied compensation on the grounds that they ‘consented’ to the abuse they have suffered is nothing short of scandalous.

“The very rules that are supposed to protect children are actually harming them.

“The Government must urgently review CICA’s guidelines so that young victims receive the redress they deserve. Ministers must guarantee that no child will ever be told that they consented to their own abuse.”

Victim Support’s Chief Executive, Mark Castle said:

“It is ridiculous, nonsensical and morally wrong to pretend that a child has consented to sexual abuse and to then use this as an excuse not to pay compensation. Any child that suffers sexual abuse is a victim – full stop.

“We call upon ministers to urgently bring about change to CICA’s guidelines so that these young people are treated fairly. They have already suffered horrendously and to be told they will not receive a payment because they willingly participated in their abuse is awful and extremely upsetting for them to hear.”   

The charity coalition also includes the National Working Group and Rape Crisis.

Contact the Liberty Press Office on 02073783656, 07973831128 or pressoffice@liberty-human-rights.org.uk



Notes to Editors

  • The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme is a government funded scheme designed to compensate blameless victims of violent crime in Great Britain. It is run by an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. Victims can apply for compensation and this is assessed against a set of rules. There are different financial amounts, for example depending on the sexual assault from £1000-£44000.
  • CICA is an executive authority sponsored by the Ministry of Justice that runs the Criminal Justice Compensation Scheme. It is independent of Government and is based in Scotland. The scheme is run throughout England, Wales and Scotland. There is a different process for compensation in Northern Ireland.
  • Victim Support’s Freedom of Information request revealed that since the scheme started in 2012, 693 child victims of sexual abuse have been refused compensation. The authorities do not state how many of these were denied because they ‘consented’ to their sexual relationship, but state that they were denied based on the fact that the child was ‘not a direct victim of a crime of violence’.
  • Figures where stated are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2020 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between  6th - 7th April 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  • 66% think CICA's guidance should be changed so a child cannot be found to have 'consented' to activities involved in their sexual exploitation
  • 66% think CICA's guidance should be changed so children under 16 cannot be found to have 'consented' to any sexual activity with an adult
  • Barnardo’s has 40 child sexual exploitation (CSE) services working in over 40 locations and in 2016/2017 we worked with 3,430 people through our direct support services. Throughout services, staff work under the ‘4 As’ principles - attention, advocacy, assertive outreach and access – and provide time, unlimited support to enable a young person to exit the abuse and recover.
  • Child sexual exploitation, CSE, is a serious form of child abuse affecting children and young people from all backgrounds and communities across the UK. It happens when a boy or girl is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something, including gifts, cigarettes, or simply attention and affection. Once the abuser has gained the trust of the victim they start controlling and manipulating them, sometimes using force, alcohol and other illegal substances. Victims may mistakenly believe they are in a relationship and don’t realise they have, or are being groomed into having sex with one or more abuser.
  • Last year 272,000 children, young people and parents were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 1,000 services across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes. Visit www.barnardos.org.uk to find out more. Call the 24 hour press office number 020 8498 7555 or Janet Knight on 07880 710273  Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605.
  • Liberty was founded in 1934. We are a membership organisation at the heart of the movement for fundamental rights and freedoms in the UK. We promote the values of individual human dignity, equal treatment and fairness as the foundations of a democratic society. We are entirely independent – which means we’re free to fearlessly and robustly criticise Government policy and truly hold the powerful to account. Liberty campaigns to protect basic rights and freedoms through the courts, in Parliament and in the wider community. We do this through a combination of public campaigning, test case litigation, parliamentary work, policy analysis and the provision of free advice and information.
  • Victim Support (VS) is the leading independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales. In 2016/2017 Victim Support offered support to 814,000 people, including just over 91,000 suffering from domestic violence and 11,000 suffering from hate crime. Victim Support also runs the national Homicide Service supporting people bereaved through murder and manslaughter, and a free Supportline that anyone can access for help 24/7 on 0808 1689111. Victim Support is a member of the Home Office’s Joint Fraud Taskforce, addressing fraud and cybercrime. The charity has just over 1,000 staff and 3,000 volunteers.
  • To contact Victim Support’s press office, please call: 020 7268 0202 or email: press@victimsupport.org.uk